The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
87/234-1 Traffic light pedestrian crossing button, 'Audio-tactile pedestrian detector (ATPD)', ovoid shape, designed by Louis A Challis and Associates, 1976, and David Wood, Nielsen Design Associates c1984. Click to enlarge.

Pedestrian crossing button

Designed
The ATPD, 'Audio-Tactile Pedestrian Detector', for pedestrian crossings at traffic lights is an example of an Australian innovation. The device was developed in response to social pressure from 1967 through to the 1980s. The initial request came from a member of the public for the Department of Main Roads (DMR) to solve a social problem by developing a safe indicating system for vision and hearing impaired pedestrians to cross the road safely at traffic lights. The resulting public lobbying …

Summary

Object No.

87/234-1

Object Statement

Traffic light pedestrian crossing button, 'Audio-tactile pedestrian detector (ATPD)', ovoid shape, designed by Louis A Challis and Associates, 1976, and David Wood, Nielsen Design Associates c1984

Physical Description

Traffic light pedestrian crossing button, 'Audio-tactile pedestrian detector (ATPD)', ovoid shape, designed by Louis A Challis and Associates, 1976, and David Wood, Nielsen Design Associates c1984

Dimensions

Height

88 mm

Width

119 mm

Production

Notes

The concept, operating principles and electronics were designed by Louis A. Challis and Associates Pty Ltd in 1976.
The external case was designed principally by David Wood, Nielsen Design Associates c1984.

Key Organisations
Louis A. Challis and Associates Pty Ltd : audio-tactile R&D for RTA
Aldridge Traffic Systems : manufacture
Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW (RTA) : coordination
Nielsen Design Associates : industrial design of the case and button
AWA Limited : manufacture

Key People
Frank Hulscher : RTA traffic engineer
David Wood : designer at Nielsen Design
Louis Challis : engineer

History

Notes

In 1967 a blind man named Cecil McIlwraith asked the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to introduce pedestrian traffic signals he could hear. At a city crossing, the RTA installed some bells and buzzers on both sides.

Blind pedestrians were meant to cross when the buzzing sound replaced the ringing. Unfortunately they found that when the bells broke down they sounded like buzzers, which could cause deadly confusion in blind pedestrians.

The next version, installed in 1976, had a two-rhythm buzzer and included a vibrating panel to touch, because many vision-impaired people also have some loss of hearing.

In the early 1980s Sydney consultants Nielsen Design Associates were asked to redesign the device. The new unit was made from cast aluminium with vandal-proof fixings. The large magnetic button (tested to withstand millions of pushes) is easy to find and push. A Braille arrow on the vibrating plate indicates the direction to cross.

The RTA still owns the design and technology of this revolutionary button. Since 1985 it has contracted three companies to make the 'Audio-Tactile Pedestrian Detector' in Australia and sell them throughout Australia, the USA and Singapore.

The ATPD pedestrian button leads the international standards for acoustic and tactile signals for traffic lights. The audio-tactile pedestrian detector has given pedestrians with vision, hearing and physical impairments greater confidence and freedom to move about independently

In 1976, The Association of Consulting Engineers Australia, bestowed an Engineering Award on Louis A Challis and Associates, "Given in recognition of an engineering project of outstanding merit' for the development of the Audio Tactile Pedestrian Crossing Signal for the Blind. Louis Challis and Associates developed the detector for their client, the Department of Motor Transport (NSW) & the Department of Transport. The Award Certificate is dated 27th January 1977.

Louis Challis said: Although we were keen to design a completely new functional package as part of the design brief, our client contact, Mr Frank Hulsher (from the RTA), insisted that we should integrate our design into the (then) existing rectangular pedestrian push button boxes, to which we reluctantly acceded. Although I was subsequently offered the 'patent rights' on my development, I declined to so do, as I believed that the development would be more widely used if it was unencumbered by patent restrictions. Our design (which included all the electronic circuitry) was an immediate and resounding success and became an Australian Standard. It has also been adopted by a number of other countries to replace their previous systems. The RTA subsequently came to realise that the pre-existing box's design was far from optimum and so they commissioned the new box design, which I agree has functionally improved the design. It was Neilsen Design that designed the box.

Discussion about the design of the pedestrian button and Carl Nielsen
ABC Blueprint, 17 September 2016
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/carl-nielsen/7843152

Cite this Object

Harvard

Pedestrian crossing button 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 8 August 2022, <https://ma.as/74447>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/74447 |title=Pedestrian crossing button |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=8 August 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}