German technology giant Bosch who are pioneers of motorcycle ABS and stability control systems has announced another new device to help improve the safety of riders, side view assist. Dubbed the world’s first assistance system for motorcycles, the device uses four ultrasonic sensors that monitor their surroundings to help riders change lanes safely. The sensors cover a distance of up to five meters in areas that are difficult or impossible to see using just the mirrors.
Whenever there is a vehicle in the rider’s blind spot, the technology warns them by way of an optical signal close to the mirror, so they can for example avoid a collision when changing lanes. “We want to make motorcycling safer without sacrificing riding enjoyment,” says Bosch board member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel. This is obviously very similar to blind spot warning systems that have been available in cars for a number of years. It’s probably even more warranted on bikes, which only have two side mirrors, no direct rear view mirror and helmets which can tend to block peripheral version somewhat.
The rear sensors monitor the blind spot in the neighboring lanes to the left and right. The two front sensors provide a plausibility check. If the front left sensor detects an object before the rear left sensor does, then the control unit knows that this is an oncoming vehicle on the other side of the road – and issues no warning. Vehicles that are in the process of parking are similarly recognized and do not lead to a warning. Only if one of the rear ultrasonic sensors registers an object before the front sensors do will the system issue a warning to the rider; it does not intervene in their riding maneuvers.
Perhaps the only negative to the system is that it’s only effective at speeds from 25 to 80 kilometres per hour. Given freeway speeds often hit or exceed 100 kilometres an hour, that’s an unfortunate limitation on an otherwise interesting piece of technology.