The dramatically increased availability of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in cars has gone a long way toward making us safer on our morning commutes, but what is the person who rides a motorcycle supposed to do? Buy a good helmet and cross some fingers? Not anymore, if Bosch has anything to say about it.
Technology like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, and forward-collision warning systems are well established in the four-wheeled world but are non-existent in the world of motorcycles. In fact, technology like antilock brakes and traction control are only now becoming close to ubiquitous on bikes. Bosch sees this as an opportunity to take a significant bite out of the rising number of motorcycle traffic fatalities by adding some smart tech to your moto.
Bosch has developed motorcycle-specific versions of well-proven ADAS technologies, starting with adaptive cruise control. Even standard cruise control is something of a rarity on all but big touring and adventure motorcycles, but adding the capability for these machines to speed and slow themselves relative to traffic would be a game changer, particularly on long trips.
Next, Bosch has created a forward-collision warning system. The system would go active as soon as the motorcycle is started and if the system detects that the rider isn't reacting to a rapidly nearing vehicle, it would warn the rider by way of either a sonic or optical signal.
Bosch is also working on a complex motorcycle stability control system that utilizes advanced gyroscopes and accelerometers to detect parameters such as speed, lean angle and braking force and can instantly adjust electronic braking and throttle settings to help prevent a crash. This system would be especially helpful when braking during cornering (not a good idea to do, if you can help it) where tire grip is limited and the possibility of a violent high-side crash is more likely.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, is the blind-spot warning system. While on a motorcycle, your visibility to the sides and rear are severely limited. Many motorcycles struggle with mirrors that provide a finite field of view won't adjust past the rider's elbows or become blurry at speed.
Physically turning your head to check your blind spots is helpful, but being unable to remove your right hand from the throttle means that this isn't foolproof either. When you add this lack of vision to a motorcycle's ability to quickly change directions and car drivers lack of general awareness, it's a recipe for a crash.
The Bosch blind-spot warning system works just like the one on your car. It uses a small radar sensor to detect vehicles approaching and then offers a warning, ideally by illuminating a light in the appropriate side mirror. This technology is perfect for motorcycles because the physical hardware needed to make it work is very minimal, and the impact on safety could be huge.
Bosch is already working with Ducati and KTM to incorporate these technologies on future models starting in 2020, and we'd expect to see them on models like the Multistrada and the 1290 Super Duke before it trickles down into the more modestly priced bikes in each company's lineup.