Autonomous vehicles and motorcycling
FIM has applied for Associate Member status in the Connected Motorcycle Consortium to contribute the rider perspective to the work
FIM & FIM Europe Director of Public Affairs
FIM has applied for Associate Member status in the Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC) to contribute the rider perspective to the work
There is much discussion in the media on the subject of autonomous vehicles.
There are two parallel lines of development that are completely different. The first is the Google car.
Now named the Waymo. In November 2017 a milestone was reached with the deployment of these cars in the US city of Chandler (part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona). The cars are being driven around Chandler without anyone at the wheel! If successful this technology will deliver a revolution in the lifestyle of elderly and disabled people giving them the mobility that the majority take for granted. Waymo see a future where their cars will provide on demand driverless taxi services.
Have a look at the Waymo car in action HERE
Established motor manufacturers are now playing catch up with Waymo. Developing their own fully automated vehicles. One example is General Motors but keeping a driver at the wheel in case it is necessary for a human to take over. Waymo have gone further with the staff member now sitting in the back seat away from the controls.
The second development is already with us – at least on high end cars. This is the car with a series of driver assistance systems that reduce the amount of effort required to drive. (Although not all experts agree as discussed below).
The technologies include:
Autonomous emergency braking. This operates in both low speed and higher speed. At lower speed the most frequent deployment will be braking to allow a pedestrian across a crossing where the driver has failed to notice. At higher speed it can assist with slowing a car and preventing it hitting the rear of another vehicle.
Lane assist is a technology that automatically corrects the steering if a driver allows the car to wander off into another lane without making a planned lane change.
Advanced cruise control allows the setting of a speed and the car will adjust to keep to the selected speed slowing when needed. Similar cruise control systems can be found also on top range motorcycles.
There are also systems that link the driving of the car to satellite navigation so the car will leave a motorway at the correct junction. – Taking into account the movement of other traffic in planning the move.
With increasing use of these new technologies and prices coming down it is certain these systems will migrate to lower cost vehicles.
Critics argue that these new technologies increase the amount of distracted driving. Many drivers are tempted to indulge in activities that are inconsistent with road safety. In particular texting and surfing the internet. Also, even with a driver who is not doing something wrong, the move from semi- automated mode to resuming manual control can take time. This is because the mind can become relaxed and distracted even without doing something like texting.
The complexity of new cruise control systems and the correct method of operating them takes time to learn.
From the specific point of motorcycling cases show that the systems do not always recognise a motorcycle, scooter or moped. In Norway a Tesla car struck the rear of a motorcycle whilst it was in semi-automated mode as the sensors did not pick up on the presence of the motorcyclist ahead.
In California – where filtering or “lane splitting” is legal there has been a low speed collision between a GM car in automatic mode and a motorcyclist. This is now the subject of litigation. The car was changing lanes but then a vehicle ahead slowed and the car changed its decision and moved back. At the same moment a motorcyclist was moving into that lane. A police report cleared GM and blamed the rider. The rider does not agree with that opinion of the police officer and a civil suit has been filed against General Motors.
There are new technologies that are specifically designed to improve safety between cars and motorcycles. For example, warning devices fitted to side mirrors that draw the attention of a driver to the presence of a nearby motorcycle when the bike is in the “blind sport.”
In addition to connecting vehicles with the infrastructure there are new developments in vehicle to vehicle communication. A key development will be car to motorcycle connections and vice versa. These hold out the promise of greatly reducing the risk of collisions particularly at junctions. A consortium has been formed between BMW, Honda and Yamaha to share safety technology. As BMW and Honda are both also motor manufacturers this is a welcome development to ensure there is better compatibility.
FIM has applied for observer status in this new consortium to contribute the rider perspective to the work.