Saving lives with talking bikes

From BMW and Triumph to KTM and Ducati, the continent's biggest motorcycle manufacturers are committing en masse to embracing vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology as part of a focused long-term effort to make riding safer.

The Safe ride to the Future initiative, announced by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) at the 10th International Motorcycle Conference in Cologne, Germany details a holistic approach to reducing the number of bike-related accidents via a combination of technology, training, education and infrastructure investment.

A key element of the strategy, vehicle-to-vehicle communication is already being integrated into cars -- Ford, BMW, Audi, Volvo and GM among others are already putting systems through real-world testing with the aim of bringing the feature to market by 2017.

By enabling vehicles to communicate with each other, either via the WiFi spectrum or a 3G or 4G cellular connection, collisions can be avoided and warnings about adverse local conditions can be shared automatically. The technology also enables elements of infrastructure, such as traffic lights, to interact with vehicles to reduce congestion and boost fuel economy.

BMW has already run trials where two-wheel as well as four-wheeled vehicles are enabled with the systems, but following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), on Monday, all ACEM members have pledged to have at least one of their models available for sale that supports ITS by 2020.

Following on from the adoption of similar technology in European and North American cars, the ACEM's members have also pledged to examine the feasibility of integrating an eCall system into new models too. A feature that will soon be standard on all new cars, eCall will automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident and share a vehicle's exact location with first responders.

As well as embracing technology, the initiative calls for further training for new and existing riders: the ACEM intends to work in partnership with the German Road Safety Council to promote voluntary post-license training schemes that will be offered to riders in all EU countries.

The organisation also plans to hit the road to promote its ideas at various workshops and events across the continent and to engage with riders' organisations and public authorities on issues such as changes to existing safety policies and the design and maintenance of road infrastructure.

"Road safety is not only about the vehicle. Road safety policies must look at vehicles' safety features, users' behavior and the infrastructure on which they operate. As the number of motorcycles and mopeds on Europe's roads is expected to continue growing, as a reflection of citizens' expectations, it is essential to ensure that they are adequately integrated into transport policies at all levels. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with European and national policy-makers to achieve our common goal of saving lives," said ACEM Secretary General Antonio Perlot.

The International Motorcycle Conference is timed to coincide with this year's INTERMOT International fair for scooters, motorcycles and e-bikes, which officially gets underway Oct 1 in Cologne, Germany.

As well as showcasing new models from the world's leading manufacturers, this year's event is expected to have a major focus on safety and in particular on high-tech innovations in terms of connectivity and telematics. For example, the event will be the first time that the revolutionary Skully Augmented Reality crash helmet, which features a head up display and an integrated rear view camera will be demonstrated in Europe to the motorcycling crowd. Demonstrations of vehicle-to-vehicle communication and of live telematics -- relaying information such as speed, fuel levels and other engine critical data -- are also expected.—AFP/RelaxNews 2014

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