Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

We’ve seen recently that both Dainese and Alpinestars are getting serious about promoting airbag jackets for riders. But they no doubt have their limitations. They have to be charged and in the case of Dainese’s offering needs to be integrated with the bike itself. Hence why its good to see that two recent patents point the way to the potential for more motorcycles with built in airbags.

Such devices wouldn’t be the first – Honda released their Gold Wing almost a decade ago with an optional airbag and still sells it with that option today. It’s no surprise then that Honda is looking to further the technology with a system that may have potential in other styles of bikes

The new airbag is designed to extend vertically from its compartment which sits roughly at the front where the fuel tank normally is. It’s positioning is helped given that the patent uses Honda’s NC750S as the basis for the airbag which is a motorcycle whose fuel tank sits beneath the riders seat instead of in front of the rider as normal.
Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

Upon deploying, the airbag is designed to extend up high enough to ensure the riders’ head is protected, even if he or she is thrown forward up the tank – something that can obviously happen in an accident where massive deceleration occurs. The airbag also extends towards the riders stomach and lower chest, providing more cushioning to internal organs in those locations.

The second patent that has recently been filed comes from Bosch, technological leaders in much of the cutting edge technology we see on bikes today, including cornering ABS and high end traction control systems. Bosch’s system is designed to be more universal in nature meaning it can be adopted and utilised on a variety of motorcycle types, including sportsbikes and even scooters.

Bosch’s system even includes the possibility of two airbags – one at the front of the bike near the headlights to act as a cushion to slow the bikes impact, and a second airbag extending from near the handlebars or top of the triple tree to protect the riders chest and head.

Neither solution is obviously perfect and airbags built into motorcycles will only work in certain types of crashes. They won’t for example provide any protection when a rider is hit from the side or when they come off the bike. But these new inventions from Honda and Bosch, alongside airbag clothing from Alpinestars and Dainese are ways to cover different risks and hopefully minimise rider injuries and fatalities.

Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

It’s Time To Ban Standing Starts In Motorcycle Racing

Last weekend, Bernat Martinez and Daniel Rivas Fernandez lost their lives at MotoAmerica’s Superbike/Superstock 1000 race. The incident occurred at the start of the race in a situation that is any rider’s worst nightmare – Fernandez’s bike either stalled or lost power after the green light and he was a sitting duck while riders at full acceleration rode past. Unfortunately, Fernandez was hit and in the ensuing chaos, both he and Martinez received what would ended up being life ending injuries. It was not the first time an incident like this happened and it won’t be the last, unless standing starts are done away with.

Such events aren’t isolated to motorcycle racing by any means. There have been numerous such incidents in Formula 1 over the years including one that resulted in the death of Riccardo Paletti at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1982 due to another car stalling on the grid. Back in 2011 there was a spectacular though thankfully not fatal incident due to a car failing at the start in a V8 Supercar race in Perth, Australia.

The difference between modern race cars and motorcycles when it comes to these incidents today is that fatalities in four wheeled racing are almost unheard of. Race cars are surrounded by carbon fibre and steel with safety cells and roll cages. A car can virtually be destroyed and the safety cell with the driver inside will remain intact – at worst the driver may receive concussion, bruises and whiplash.

In motorcycle racing, there is no protective bubble. Incidents like this are the equivalent to someone walking out onto a freeway and getting hit by a car at speed – you cannot survive that and yet it’s something that’s deemed an acceptable risk in motorcycle racing. The starting grid at Laguna Seca from end to end is approximately 150 metres (500 feet) in length. That’s more than enough distance for a literbike to easily reach speeds that prevent a rider from reacting to an unsighted and stricken competitor on the grid.

It should be kept in mind that the incident last weekend wasn’t at an amateur event. MotoAmerica is the premier motorcycle series in the USA and is a feeder category to the World Superbike Championship – the event that this particular race was supporting. These were professional racers – the danger to amateurs with less experience and less skill is even greater.

Bernat Martinez and Daniel Rivas Fernandez

Purists will no doubt argue that introducing rolling starts is just further sanitation of motorcycle racing. I would argue that unlike every other high risk sport, motorcycle racing hasn’t been sanitised at all over the years. Helmet technology has improved marginally over the decades and only a few riders at MotoGP and WSBK level have access to (or can afford) airbag technology. Literbikes can reach speeds in excess of 300 kph on many tracks. MotoGP riders hit 342 kph at Indianapolis – that’s comparable to what F1 cars reach at Monza. Motorcycle racing remains one of, if not the most dangerous form of motorsport in existence.

Le mans style starts were once common place but are now almost never used and this was done for safety reasons. While doing away with standing starts does take a type of skill away from racing, it’s an incredibly minor facet of a race and it merely puts more emphasis on qualifying.

The deaths of Bernat Martinez and Daniel Rivas Fernandez was a tragedy and unless rolling starts are introduced it won’t be the last.

Dainese Introduces D-air Armor, Licenses it to Other Manufacturers

While we’ve recently seen some nice new advances in motorcycle helmet technology, it seems that motorcycle airbag clothing is also making some nice strides forward. Dainese has long provided riders it sponsors with D-air equipped gear and now it’s opening that opportunity up to other manufacturers by introducing (and licensing) their D-air armor system.

This is actually a brand new product. Previously, their D-air systems were integrated into the hump on the back of track leathers. This system uses a back protector with the airbag integrated inside of it instead. The back protector houses the entire protection system— electronics, gas generator, wiring, battery and GPS.

Vircos and Furygan will be the first companies to adopt the new Dainese technology. D-air Armor will protect Michele Pirro and Mattia Pasini (Vircos), as well as Mike Di Meglio, Johan Zarco and Sam Lowes (Furygan).

“Furygan has been providing its own riders and clients with protective products of the highest possible level for 45 years,” said Jean Marc Autheman, Export and Racing Manager for Furygan. “When Dainese offered their new D-air Armor system, we took an immediate interest in the project and, after having been able to test and assess the performance of this technology, we gladly accepted the collaboration. Starting from the Catalunya GP, we will be able to offer our riders the first Furygan racing suits fitted with the D-air Armor system.”

The only other creator of airbag products in MotoGP and other racing series is Alpinestars. Dainese move will most likely force Alpinestars to open its product up as well. But this can only be a good thing. The more data both companies collect and the more widespread the use of these safety systems in professional racing becomes, the faster the technology will makes its way to the public to use.

Dainese Technologies at the 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition

Dainese has been invited to exhibit its projects D-Air®, an air bag for motorcyclists, and Biosuit®, a pressurised suit for astronauts, in the Venice Pavilion at the Biennale, which, this year, hosts an exhibition entitled: Looking ahead. The evolution of the art of making. 9 stories from Veneto: Digital – not only digital.

The exhibition – explains its curator Architect Aldo Cibic – is about creative processes which, starting with an idea, have developed along paths that are often tortuous, involving experiments, risk taking, errors, illusions, planned or casual meetings and second thoughts, and led to results that are acknowledged for their intrinsic quality and originality.

Looking ahead” is intended to highlight the powerful force of the link between artistic creativity and state-of-the-art technology that can give rise to discontinuous innovation, which is not the development of what already exists but a technological leap able to create fast and significant progress.

Dainese, true to its company mission of protecting the human body in dynamic sports, began experimenting with electronic air bags back in 2000. Although tortuous, the path has brought much international acclaim (including German TÜV certification and projects with motorbike manufacturers such as DUCATI, PEUGEOT and YAMAHA), allowing us to develop top-level technology for the D-air platform in order to protect the human body.

Dainese has a real mission that is not only focused on marketing but also on all areas of company activities. Lino Dainese and his collaborators worked for 10 years before launching two revolutionary products on the market in 2011: D-Air® Racing e D-Air® Street, Air Bags that save lives on racing tracks and roads worldwide.

The Venice Biennale exhibition invites us to consider art as a trigger for new ideas. The fact that two major Dainese projects have been selected is prestigious recognition for Biosuit®, which will represent safe mobility in the future, and for D-Air® that currently provides safe mobility in an innovative way.

Not surprisingly, just recently, Dainese received another prestigious acknowledgement: the Leonardo da Vinci Award for Innovation, presented to Dainese by the President of the Italian Republic, thanks to the prime importance of the D-Air® project. The Leonardo da Vinci Award for Innovation is given to entrepreneurs whose companies have distinguished themselves for product quality innovation and a strong international, sales and production outlook.

The award, arising from a cultural background seemingly opposite to that of art, not by chance bears the name of Leonardo da Vinci, the sublime artist and extraordinary inventor, who, with his artistic works and technologies, showed how art and technology are far from being different and opposite worlds.

Such important acknowledgements, in this case in areas quite apart from the company’s business, see Dainese as the father of revolutionary technologies intended to improve the life of millions of sports enthusiasts.

Dainese: Design, technology and innovation at the service of mankind.

D-AIR®

Dainese D-Air®, a technological platform for protecting the human body, features an “intelligent” system that detects dangerous situations and inflates special airbags around the rider’s body. Its triggering algorithm recognises various crash conditions, allowing it to come into action. Special airbags with a patented structure give Dainese D-Air® levels of protection and ergonomics never reached before, bringing record achievements that are certified by stringent TÜV SÜD approval. Over the last 10 years, D-Tec – the Dainese R&D department – has succeeded in making this platform so advanced that it can be applied to various fields: with D-Air® Racing for track use, D-Air® Street for everyday use on roads, and D-Air® Ski for application in winter sports. Further applications of the D-Air® technology are being tested and implemented for the transportation sector, as well as that of the elder and the younger generation.

BIOSUIT®

For many years, Dainese has been developing a spacesuit project for the NASA Institute of Advanced Concept (NIAC) in close collaboration with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Professor Dava Newman. Known as Biosuit®, it is a next generation spacesuit intended to replace pneumatic pressurisation of the wearer’s body with mechanical pressurisation, making astronauts’ movements less tiring, slow and heavy when on a mission. The spacesuit, made by Dainese, features a network of black and gold-coloured filaments that represent the so-called “lines of non-extension”. A force can be applied along those lines that mechanically pressurises the astronaut’s body, without restricting mobility. Therefore, the spacesuit manages to maintain constant pressure even when concave parts of the body move.

Dainese Technologies at the 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition

BMW And Alpinestars Team Up On New Airbag Clothing

BMW Motorrad and Alpinestars have today announced that they are starting an exclusive cooperation in motorcycle safety clothing systems. The first product to be launched under this cooperation will be a BMW Motorrad jacket jointly developed by BMW Motorrad and Alpinestars, combined with an airbag waistcoat developed using Alpinestars technology. The new BMW Motorrad jacket, being branded by both makers, will be available in both male and female versions and the public presentation of this newly developed airbag jacket will be held later this year.

The airbag waistcoat is based on Alpinestars’ Tech-Air airbag system, the world’s first self-contained street airbag system that independently functions without the need for sensors to be installed on the bike and the subsequent need to link a specific motorcycle to the airbag system used by the rider.

This means that the airbag waistcoat offers the freedom to ride any bike on any surface at any time and can be used with any type of BMW Motorrad motorcycle or scooter, allowing the rider to easily switch between bikes without reconfiguring or reinitializing the bike-to-rider set-up.

Therefore, the system is immediately ready for use and no time is wasted in setting up electronic pairing between rider and/or passenger and motorcycle. The first Alpinestars branded only Tech-Air gear will go on sale within the next few months in Europe. The Tech-Air Street unit will cost €1,200 which can be used with the either the touring Valparaiso Dry Star jacket (€650) or the Viper textile jacket will (€350).

The system is able to fully deploy within 25 milliseconds – fast enough, says Alpinestars, to provide protection to a rider in an accident with another motor vehicle. The bag remains fully inflated for a full five seconds after initializing and covers virtually the entire torso – shoulders, back, kidneys, and chest – far more than traditional motorcycle armor. The system is designed to best operate from speeds ranging from 15 mph to 54 mph (24 kph to 90 kph).

 

Alpinestars Tech-Air Street Availability and Pricing Announced

We brought news to you in early November of last year that Alpinestars was set to release a revolutionary new motorcycle airbag system, the Alpinestars Tech-Air Street. It’s revolutionary because it’s a completely self contained unit – no computer onboard your motorcycle like Dainese’s system and no physical tether between you and the bike like other airbag jackets on the market. Now Alpinestars have announced the price for both the Tech-Air unit and the jackets that it can go into – you might want to sit down.

The Alpinestars Tech-Air Street unit will cost €1,200 when it’s released in Europe this Spring, which at current exchange rates works to be around $1,450. The touring Valparaiso Dry Star jacket will cost €650 ($775) and the Viper textile jacket will be €350 ($420). At a minimum investment of nearly $2,000, it’s approaching nearly 50 per cent of the cost of some entry level bikes but it’s to be expected given how new the technology is.

The system is able to fully deploy within 25 milliseconds – fast enough, says Alpinestars, to provide protection to a rider in an accident with another motor vehicle. The bag remains fully inflated for a full five seconds after initializing and covers virtually the entire torso – shoulders, back, kidneys, and chest – far more than traditional motorcycle armor. The system is designed to best operate from speeds ranging from 15 mph to 54 mph (24 kph to 90 kph).

Ease of use and operation has also been well thought out. The Alpinestars Tech-Air system is activated when the jacket’s zipper is closed – no buttons or dials to turn on on while using bulky motorcycle gloves. The system has a battery life of 25 hours which should mean most riders would only need to plug the system in every one to two weeks. LED lights appear on the left sleeve of the jacket indicating the system is working and also remaining batter life.

The Alpinestars Tech-Air Street is not cheap, but as far as rider safety goes, airbag jackets are the only real advance we’ve seen on the street in the last few years. Obviously over time the prices will fall and we’ll hopefully see systems similar to this from other manufacturers. There’s no word yet on when the Tech-Air will make it to the rest of the world but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.

 

Ducati Announces World’s First Consumer Motorcycle with Integrated Airbag Jacket System

Ducati has announced that it has teamed up with fellow Italian company, Dainese, to provide an integrated system that will link it’s Multistrada D-Air model to a Dainese designed Ducati jacket with an airbag.

Dainese has been one of the pioneers of airbag jackets, with their technology featuring in MotoGP and other racing series since the late 2000’s. Unlike many other airbag systems for jackets, the D-Air system is wireless. Until now, it was an aftermarket solution, with Dainese fitting the appropriate technology to the bike at selected European locations.

The announcement by Ducati signifies the first time a motorcycle will come fitted standard with the system. It will initially be available in Europe only.

 

 

Press Release:

Borgo Panigale (Bologna), 21 March 2014 – Italy’s iconic motorcycle manufacturer, Ducati, announces the introduction of the Multistrada D-Air® model, featuring a fully integrated, intelligent system of sensors wirelessly connected to Ducati Apparel airbag jackets by Dainese. Marking a ‘world’s first’ in the motorcycle industry and combining the innovative designs from two famous Italian brands, the new Ducati model takes a significant step forward in two-wheel safety. 

Combining the expertise of both Ducati and Dainese, the intelligent passive safety system uses sensors built into the Multistrada’s existing electronics to constantly understand the vehicle’s dynamic situation and deploying only when subjected to a genuine accident scenario. The Multistrada D-Air® system completes the data analysis and airbag deployment inside both the rider and passenger jackets in just 45 milliseconds, considerably reducing the risk of injury upon impact.

Ducati’s premiere of the technology, developed in cooperation with Dainese, further underlines the Italian motorcycle manufacturer’s commitment to enhanced safety, already represented by their Ducati Safety Pack consisting of multi-level ABS and traction control.

More information on the Ducati Multistrada D-Air® will be released on 15 April and the innovative new model will be available in European Ducati Dealerships from May 2014 onwards.