Talk saves lives, that's the focus of motorcycle industry experts and their predictions for the future, with inter-vehicle connectivity seen as the key to safer roads.
While the future of the car as a fully-autonomous and electric means of transportation seems to be set in stone, the progression of its two-wheeled counterpart is not so apparent.
It's something that the motorcycle industry has made moves to combat in an effort to define the future of the vehicle in a much more safety and environmentally-conscious society.
The Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC) – founded three years ago by industry leaders BMW, Honda and Yamaha – have began conducting tests into how connectivity and networked communications can be the core of the next generation of safer "smart" bikes.
Hennes Fischer, CMC spokesman and Senior Advisor at Yamaha, explains their plans for the future of the industry.
Why was the CMC founded?
Fischer: Our main objective is to increase motorcycle safety through connectivity. The current focus is the Motorcycle Approach Warning.
Fischer: A warning system. Currently there are many accidents in which, for example, the motorcyclist drives on the main road and a driver coming from a side street does not see him, drives off and a collision occurs. With connectivity, we can warn the car in advance: “Attention, a motorcyclist is coming from the left”, while the motorcyclist gets the information about the car, as well as road conditions, traffic jams, etc.
How exactly should this communication take place?
The goal is to establish a common standard for motorcycle connectivity systems that ensures motorcycles from different manufacturers can communicate with each other but also with other vehicles.
Are there any practical solutions to make this a reality?
There are various technologies for this. As far as safety-relevant functions are concerned, they have to communicate directly with each other. At the moment, this is possible with a technology that runs in the 5.9 GHz band.
Is this a wireless network, like WiFi?
Yes, the vehicles talk directly to each other – vaguely similar to walkie-talkies – and exchange standardized messages. While we have not invented anything new in terms of communication technology, we are concentrating on adapting it for motorcycle usage.
When will these systems go into mass production?
Hopefully in a minimum of about three-to-five years, though it depends on other outside factors. Some standards outside the motorcycle industry are in limbo and we can only begin developments when these parameters have been made clear. Data security is a prime example.
Are there plans to make automated driving a prominent feature of motorcycles in the future?
First of all you have to ask yourself how far it makes sense to automate motorcycles. I can't imagine motorcyclists wanting a fully-automated vehicle on two wheels. And then the question arises about how much automation would be integrated into motorcycles.
One possibility would be connectivity, where the motorcycle informs the other vehicle of its position, while the same automated vehicle could also detect a motorcycle even when there is no established connectivity.
Let's jump 20 years into the future. What does road traffic, and indeed the motorcycle, look like?
Some road traffic will certainly be highly automated. But the motorcycle will still have its place, because it has many advantages in terms of space and energy requirements. It requires less energy for production than the car, has a surprisingly good ecological footprint and offers riders a unique driving experience. We see it as an important means of transport in future traffic scenarios. – dpa