If research at BMW Motorrad progresses as planned, bikers may soon be joined by a few dozen lasers, cameras and short-range WiFi networks — even on long rides out in the country.
Adapting technology they’ve developed in the automotive realm, BMW is now testing ConnectedRide, an intelligent transportation system that for the first time integrates motorcycles into a vehicle-to-vehicle communication network. Not only does the technology alert drivers that a motorcycle might be in their blind spot or approaching an intersection, but it can also “see” around blind corners and alert riders to inclement weather or road obstacles up ahead.
Most interesting is Intersection Assistant, which was developed as part of BMW’s Car-to-X ITS system and adapted for motorcycles. It marries GPS data with lasers, cameras and speed sensors to tell when a car or motorcycle is approaching an intersection or about to make a left turn across oncoming traffic. ITS-equipped cars and bikes will receive increasingly dire alerts if the system senses a collision, from dashboard displays and chimes to full-on blaring horns and flashing headlamps.
“On the one hand the warning is issued early enough for the driver still to be able to halt the vehicle before the stop line,” the company said. “On the other hand, the warning is nevertheless issued late enough to avoid alerting the car driver unless there is a very real risk of a collision.”
ConnectedRide will also glean information from car-to-car networks to determine whether a flash rainstorm is up ahead, letting the biker know whether he or she needs to take shelter under the nearest overpass. Using data streams from nearby vehicles and communicating via the standard Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) ITS protocol, ConnectedRide can generate reports of inclement weather or uneven road surfaces by how many vehicles ahead have turned on their fog lights or relied on traction control. It’s similar to what Nissan’s Carwings system is already doing in Japan.
Though the technology might take off in Stuttgart, it’ll be interesting to see if it plays in Sturgis. Bikers will certainly appreciate the passive “heads up” from passing motorists, but they may not buy into the idea of a device that tracks their every move, even if that data is kept secure.
Participation is key, however, as the data becomes more reliable as more drivers and riders participate. That’s why BMW is working alongside other automakers to develop universally relevant technology. “The greater the number of vehicles integrated into the system, the greater the amount of data that can be made available and used, and the greater the safety benefits,” said BMW.
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Image: BMW Motorrad