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German Environment Agency commissions STUVA to evaluate AVAS

On behalf of the German Environment Agency (UBA), STUVA is working on the research project "Noise assessment of the Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS)" (FKZ 3718 54 100 0). The research project started at the beginning of October 2018 and will run for two years.

Electric and hybrid vehicles have many advantages. One of them is their contribution to reducing road traffic noise, which disturbs a considerable part of the population across Germany. Due to the lack of a combustion engine, vehicles with an electric drive up to a speed of around 30 km/h can be driven almost noiselessly. When driving faster, the rolling noises of the vehicle tyres usually dominate to such an extent that electric vehicles are as loud as conventional combustion vehicles.

This almost noiseless operation at low speeds could possibly become a problem for pedestrians and cyclists, as the vehicles are hardly audible in certain situations or operating conditions. Previous studies have assessed the risk of accidents between electrically powered vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists differently. Possible scenarios for a higher risk exist, for example, for pedestrians crossing lanes and parking lots, or for cyclists overtaking electrically powered vehicles. Blind and visually impaired people in particular obviously have greater difficulty perceiving approaching electric vehicles in time, as they usually use vehicle noises for orientation in road traffic.

In order not to jeopardise road safety targets ("Vision zero"), the European Union decided in 2014 that all new types of electrically powered vehicles must be fitted with an artificial noise generator from 1 July 2019. At low speeds, this must imitate the typical noises of a combustion engine [1]. From 1 July 2021, all new vehicles must be fitted with electric drive systems. The precise technical requirements (frequencies, sound pressure levels, etc.) have been laid down uniformly at international level in UNECE R 138 [2]. These artificial noises of an AVAS are in conflict, however, with the aim of making the inner cities quieter and thus reducing possible health hazards for the inhabitants. In the research project, the aim is to analyse, open to results and with the participation of various experts from the stakeholder groups, how the noise reduction potential of electric drive systems can be used in the future without jeopardising road safety objectives. The effectiveness and necessity of AVAS must be clarified. In the search for solutions to the conflict of objectives described above, the aim is to analyse which technologies could represent a potential alternative to AVAS. Corresponding solutions may already have been developed, be in the development phase or exist as an idea. Combinations of solutions must also be considered. The solutions identified by the research participants and assessed as realistic are to be discussed together with the stakeholders. The result should be solutions that can both exploit the noise reduction potential of electrically powered vehicles and maintain or increase road safety objectives.

Partner der STUVA im Forschungsvorhaben sind
• Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Haas, TH Köln, Fahrzeugsysteme und Produktion, Institut für Fahrzeugtechnik (IFK), Lehrgebiet Fahrzeugantriebe und -akustik, Labor für Fahrzeugschwingungen und -akustik sowie
• Dipl.-Ing. Bernd Lehming, ehemaliger Leiter des Referats Immissionsschutz (Lärm, Luftreinhaltung, Industrieanlagen) - Senatsverwaltung für Umwelt, Berlin

[1]Verordnung (EU) Nr. 540/2014 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 16. April 2014 über den Geräuschpegel von Kraftfahrzeugen und von Austauschschalldämpferanlagen sowie zur Änderung der Richtlinie 2007/46/EG und zur Aufhebung der Richtlinie 70/157/EWG. Fundstelle: ABl. (EU) L 158 vom 27.05.2014, S. 131.
[2] Regelung Nr. 138 der Wirtschaftskommission für Europa der Vereinten Nationen (UNECE) – Einheitliche Bestimmungen für die Genehmigung geräuscharmer Straßenfahrzeuge hinsichtlich ihrer verringerten Hörbarkeit (2017/71). Fundstelle: ABl. (EU) L 9 vom 13.01.2017, S. 33.

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