Motorbikes 'to get safe driving aids'

Motor bike in traffic, BBC

The safety systems created a "bubble" of awareness around a rider

Motorbikes could soon be sporting collision detection and other safety features more usually found on cars.

Research is testing ways to put these systems on motor bikes and how best to alert riders to dangers on the road.

The systems tested include warnings about speed limits, the tightness of road bends and information about other vehicles to aid lane-changing.

The first bike-based safety systems could be appearing on motorbikes within two years, say researchers.

Proof of concept tests on the Saferider systems, as they are known, have been carried out in simulators and on road bikes by Mira (formerly known as the Motor Industry Research Association), which acts as a testing and innovation centre for carmakers.

"Saferider takes the driver safety systems that are becoming standard on cars and tries to adapt them to the unique needs of motorcyclists," said Jonathan Moore, an ITS consultant at Mira, involved in the Saferider project.

Statistics gathered by Mira suggest that about 22% of all road accident fatalities involve bike riders and it is the only mode of transport which is seeing a rise in the number of deaths.

Mr Moore said making safety systems on motorbikes useful was "challenging" because of all the distractions to which riders were subjected.

"One of the most difficult things is getting the rider's attention," he said. "There's a high level of ambient noise and vibration to deal with and we really don't want motorcycle riders looking down at the handlebars any more than they need to."

The Saferider system allows motorcyclists to send SOS alerts and warns of potential hazards. Video provided by engineering consultancy Mira on behalf of Saferider.

Bubble wrap

Mira has been investigating how to use haptic, tactile feedback systems to safely get the attention of riders and warn them about other vehicles, prepare them for the road ahead or give help at junctions.

Mira engineers outfitted a Yamaha Tenere and a Triumph Sprint with the safety systems so they could be tried out on a test track.

The systems include laser scanners, haptic handles and gloves, a vibrating seat, lights, smart helmet-cameras and radar as well as a pannier full of the electronics that analyse data gathered by the sensors and pump out warnings.

One system tested works out if riders are travelling too fast to negotiate upcoming bends. Mira has developed software that acts as a "co-pilot" which, with the help of a digital map, knows what speed they should be travelling to make it round a bend.

"One system under test based around radar constantly monitors the blind spots around and behind riders," said Mr Moore. "Vehicles behind or to one side of a bike can be hard to spot because the helmet restricts visibility and riders must remember to move their head regularly to check."

"We put a motor in the cheek pad of the helmet so if you do not notice the object it will vibrate and give you a tactile warning that there's something to the right or left," said Mr Moore.

The system can also help give a rider information about traffic further behind in adjoining lanes to help with overtaking or lane-changing.

Motorbike collision detection systems developed by Mira warn a rider about an imminent impact and let them take action by slowing down sharply or, in the case of a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the bike, following it while slowing.

The safety systems could be a boon to less experienced bike riders.

"They do not give the attention to the road they should or have the experience to deal with problems," said Mr Moore.

The prototypes demonstrated by Mira showed it was feasible to fit such safety systems on motorbikes, said Mr Moore. He speculated that manufacturers would start to put them on bikes within the next 18 months to two years.

Saferider is a collaborative R&D effort that is part of the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme. Participants include Mira, Yamaha, Porsche Engineering and Fema, among others.

Article from the BBC

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Castrol Honda confirm return

The name of Castrol Honda is to return to the Superbike World Championship this year after the lubricants firm confirmed its return to major motorcycle racing sponsorship.

The Castrol Honda team won the Superbike World Championship in 1997 with John Kocinski and in 2000 and 2002 with Colin Edwards when it was based in Lincolnshire.

For 2011 the team, which will be run by Ten Kate Racing in Holland, will have riders Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus contesting the World Championship.

Carl Fogarty, who won the world title four times, and two-time winner James Toseland have also raced for Castrol Honda.

Article from the press association

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Ducati unveils new MotoGP bike

Ducati has unveiled its new GP11 MotoGP contender, the bike with which Valentino Rossi will make his debut for the Italian team.

The team's technical chief Filippo Preziosi hinted that Ducati had significant development plans for the new bike, and said it should address the issues that prevented a title challenge in 2010.

"The GP11 Ducati will start in Sepang [testing] as 'step zero'," he said.

"The engine has an evolution in that the goal has been to have a flatter torque curve. The aerodynamics are very similar those you saw in Valencia.

"We've worked on decreasing drag, increasing top speed and helping the fuel consumption. The bodywork has been based around Nicky Hayden [who is broader across the shoulders than Rossi] for his top speed. Also we've concentrated on having less lift on the front."

Ducati introduced winglets to the front of the GP10 at the Sachsenring last July after it was found that the front was only just in contact with the ground at the top end of the speed range after 180mph, and the GP11 features an evolution of that design.

As AUTOSPORT reported yesterday, the bike will have a smaller 42mm set of front forks compared to the stiffer 48mm forks that contributed to a series of high-speed falls for Hayden and Casey Stoner last season. The carbon fibre 'airbox/chassis' will have more flex in it together with the triple clamps to aid the feel of the front when leaned over.

"We have many things to test in Sepang but first the team will go with two bikes to Jerez on January 17, 18 and 19 with Franco Battaini and Vito Guareschi so we can get to Sepang with more of an understanding," Preziosi added.

Italian graphics and helmet design guru Aldo Drudi has followed Valentino Rossi over to Ducati, and has designed the team's new livery.

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Triumph Motorcycle Parts Used to Make Household Items Rock

I really like products that are made out of stuff that most of us would never think to make them from. These new Triumph Motorcycles product prototypes are exactly what I mean.
Working for an exhibition for the

Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, designers took various parts from Triumph motorcycles and used them to make other stuff you might see around the house.

See all the photos here

My favorite item is the record player made from the brake parts. The platter for the record is a disc brake rotor, and you can see what appears to be the caliper cover on the side of the record player. The bowl made from the spokes and center hub of the wheel is really cool too.

Wine drinkers with a penchant for Triumph will like the corkscrew that is made from the grip and handle bar of the bike. This one is cool in that you pull the brake lever on the handle to make the corkscrew spin. There are a few other cool items like cutlery made from brake and clutch levers, and a floor standing mirror made from motorcycle mirrors.

Article from technabob and designboom

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Transformer scooter goes from unicycle to motorcycle!

Electric scooters are practical and fun, but annoyingly, they don't transform into unicycles. Oh wait, yes they do -- say hello to the Uno.

The Uno has been around since it was a Segway with attitude, invented by a Canadian high-school student. The bike balanced on two parallel wheels and looked like a unicycle on steroids.

The latest prototype, which is being shown off at CES this week, adds a third unmotorised wheel that stretches out the front at high speeds, transforming the Uno into a normal-looking scooter, which we assume also defends the Earth from its evil robot enemies.

According to BPG Motors, the company that makes the Uno, the bike stays stable during the transition, enabling you to keep cruising along while you punch the air and your neighbours gape and point.

When it's balancing on two wheels, the scooter's small size means it has a one-metre turning radius and it could be tucked away indoors or transported in a lift.

The gyroscopically stabilised unicycle mode is also more stable than a motorcycle at low speeds, says BPG on its website.

BPG plans to bring the Uno to Europe first, where we shamelessly scoot around without worrying that it reflects badly on our personal endowments. The scooter should arrive in limited quantities, at about the same price as a top of the range Vespa scooter, or around £4,000.

Clap your eyes on the photo gallery here to see the Uno in both its guises.
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