YOU CRUISE YOU LOSE? OR DO YOU WIN?
MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURERS BRANCH OUT INTO MOTORCYCLE CRUISE CONTROL SYSTEMS - IS THIS TECHNOLOGY SOMETHING YOU WELCOME?
In October Ducati and BMW both announced that new motorcycle models, the V4 S and R1250RT were coming out equipped with adaptive cruise control. This is the way cars are going it seems, and now it is spreading to motorcycles, so if you opt for one of these models it will offer the rider the option to turn over throttle and braking control to an onboard computer. The sensor system which feeds the computer operates by using signals from sensors which look ahead with forward facing road reading radar, and tell the bike whether to speed up or slow down, according to traffic and road conditions.
This type of technology is perhaps not an obvious partner for the motorcycle and is difficult to fit to a bike, partly as the controls have to go on the handlebars and are fiddly for gloved fingers. It also has inherent dangers for motorcyclists who do not wear seat belts like car drivers, so it is imperative that they are not unbalanced when the bike stops or starts under its own control.
The system for a motorcycle has to be more flexible and sophisticated than that of the car, as it must be able to detect moving cars and other motorcycles even when the motorcycle it is fitted to is leaning over. The technology can also only be used if the motorcycle is travelling at over 20mph, and just slows the bike down, if it was able to completely stop the bike the rider could fall off if not prepared for the motorcycle to stop suddenly. The system works by employing buttons on the left hand side to choose the speed, following distance and a vehicle to follow if there is one, or a cruise to a preset speed if not. It is also designed to slow down if the bike starts to lean to what the computer considers to be a dangerous angle. Additionally if the car in front suddenly brakes and the cruise system can't keep a safe distance, it flashes a take over request to the rider so that he or she can take control back to deal with the situation.
Cruise control on cars is pretty commonplace these days and has been around since the early 1990s. But while it is actually a relief for many car drivers, as it gives them a break from controlling the car in routine driving situations and traffic, it is not necessarily such a plus for motorcyclists, who often enjoy the challenge of filtering in traffic jams and are not always inclined to just plod along behind the car in front. Controlling your own machine and the thrills and skill involved are part of the pleasure of motorcycling, so it will be interesting to see if this system is actually something motorcyclists want.
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