Bike manufacturers agree on a road to motorcycle safety

OCT 06, 2015 - A news item that may go unfairly unreported today should be among the top two-wheeled headlines for riders across all motorcycle types and interests. An agreement between some of the largest motorcycle manufacturers will essentially affect any rider buying a new motorcycle or safety accessory in the near future that uses any type of electronics.

The news is a really big deal so we’ll try to ride through the corporate jargon for our readers and get to the importance of the story itself. It’s all about how things work across different motorcycle brands and products to deliver a foundation and electronic edge to riding safety.

Under the guidance of the European association of motorcycle manufacturers (ACEM) a who’s who have signed an agreement that will allow all the smart features on motorcycles and related safety devices to speak with each other across brands and products. This far reaching agreement allows the development of advanced safety equipment and other advanced electronics to share ‘common specifications and standards’.

BMW Motorrad, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.  have signed an agreement which in effect standardizes the basic language of how advanced motorcycle electronics track and relay information. If everything rides the planned route, the benefits of this agreement could be seen as quickly as 2020.

The new cooperation was announced on October 6th 2015 at the ITS World Congress in Bordeaux, France, the world’s largest event for intelligent transport systems and services. The three partners also encouraged other motorcycle manufacturers to join the consortium so as to further increase safety in motorcycles, or as the manufacturing industry refers to them, powered two-wheelers (PTW).

This new group will be named the Connected Motorcycle Consortium and the three manufacturers who have already signed on will begin their cooperation in the field of Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS) as of now.

“In order to speed up more motorcycle-specific safety developments, we intend to cooperate to promote a successful implementation of C-ITS in motorcycles and scooters,” says Mr Tetsuo Suzuki, Operating Officer at Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The European Motorcycle Manufacturer Association is happy with today’s move. The ACEM feels in the years ahead, further technological breakthroughs will come through innovative intelligent transport systems (ITS), which will allow vehicles to interact with each other and with surrounding infrastructure.

“This initiative is fully in line with the ACEM road safety strategy and shows the willingness of the motorcycle industry to increase safety for riders based on very concrete and practical developments,” Antonio Perlot, ACEM Secretary General, said.

Look past the guys in the suits - This is an important motorcycle story
Karl Viktor Schaller (BMW Motorrad), Tetsuo Suzuki (Honda Motor Co. , Ltd.), Takaaki Kimura (Yamaha Motor Co. , Ltd.) at the signing of the agreement

And this is where the story has an impact on every day riders. This agreement is expected to open the door for better safety benefits for motorcycles, not least of which comes from being able to create a level of electronic communication which can be shared between riders and drivers of other road vehicles.

An example of this can be seen with eCall technology which allows for an emergency call to be made, either automatically or manually from a crashed vehicle, immediately after a road collision has occurred. The technology is already available in some cars, and the motorcycle industry has started research into how an embedded eCall system could work on motorcycles.

“Our companies are already active members of the Car2Car Communication Consortium, in which we work with car and truck makers and other stakeholders on common specifications and standards," Mr Takaaki Kimura, Chief General Manager of Technology Center and Executive Vice President and Representative Director of Yamaha Motor Co.Ltd. added, “We came to realize that the specific requirements of motorcycles are beyond the scope of this consortium, however.”

“The next logical step is to enter into a cooperation dedicated solely to the challenges relating to powered two-wheelers,” noted Kimura.

According to the experts, ITS systems designed for cars cannot simply be transferred to motorcycles. Due to the limited space available, electronic systems have to be smaller and be resilient to water, dust and vibration. Also, since motorcycles exhibit different driving dynamics, software development and algorithms need to consider special requirements.

“Our aim is to promote a timely and comprehensive use of cooperative ITS systems in [motorcycles] offering the potential to improve safety. We therefore encourage other companies to join us,” explained Prof. Dr. Karl Viktor Schaller, Executive Vice President Development BMW Motorrad.

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