A motorcycle that can "see" around corners

Consumer Reports News: December 23, 2008 05:31 AM

According to the seminal report on the causes of motorcycle accidents and injuries known as the Hurt study, almost 50 percent of motorcycle accidents happen when cars pull out in front of an oncoming motorcycle that they presumably don’t see.

That’s a scary number for any motorcyclist, especially a newly minted rider. Until now, the best defense motorcyclists could muster was to try to be as visible as possible, wearing bright colors, and using headlights and lane-placement strategies to be conspicuous.

If motorcycles could see around corners (and car drivers could see cycles coming more easily) it would be a big boost to safety.

Now Honda is installing short-range wireless communications equipment on its large Goldwing touring motorcycles in Europe that will allow riders to do just that.

The dedicated short-range wireless communications system will flash a light at the base of the Goldwing’s windshield to alert the rider of a car equipped with a connected, compatible device (which may include a GPS navigator, cell phone, or factory-integrated system). The warning could alert the rider of an approaching another vehicle on track to cross the motorcycle’s intended path.

While I saw a lot of similar technologies at the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress in New York last month that used wireless communications in creative ways to improve safety, no other application seemed more immediately beneficial than installing the system on a motorcycle.

For now, the connected infrastructure in the United States is still far too limited for practical application, though I hope the companies and governments working on these systems continue making progress. If Honda could install the system on Goldwings here in the States and provide the technology for other motorcycles, it could significantly reduce motorcycle accidents.

Read more about motorcycles.

Eric Evarts

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