Radar has made its way into our motorcycle life at Ducati, BMW and KTM this year, but the cheaper radar system components will soon be able to equip more models with them, as well as combine several radar sensors and cameras. By the way, this is exactly what Indian is working on right now.
Indian Motorcycle has filed patents for a set of sensors that not only provide adaptive cruise control (allowing a bike equipped with this system to maintain flow), but also monitor other riders from the rear and sides, alerting the rider to potential hazards.
We have already seen radar-based cruise control on the Ducati Multistrada V4, BMW R 1250 RT, the new KTM 1290 Adventure S. This system tracks the distance to vehicles and other objects in front and controls the speed of the motorcycle according to how those objects are moving. The system independently controls the engine speed and the braking system, and if the vehicle in front slows down too quickly or a stationary object is detected on the road, the cruise control alerts the rider of the danger so that he can resort to emergency braking.
The Indian Development Difference
The difference between Indian developments and existing systems is that the American manufacturer has added a number of additional sensors, including rear-facing cameras. A patent illustrating the maximum configuration of such a system depicts five cameras. Two are on the rolls of safety directly under the mirrors and look to the rear and to the sides, covering approximately the same sectors of view that are visible in the mirrors.
And two more cameras are mounted on the back of the wardrobe trunks and feature wide-angle lenses for greater coverage on the sides and back. The fifth camera, looking back, is installed near the rear light.
It would seem much more? But Indian’s patent includes not even one, but two radar sensors, also looking back. They are also installed on the back of the wardrobe trunks and are directed to the rear and to the sides, covering the stream coming from behind in a wide beam. Their task is to determine the position and speed of the passing vehicle relative to the motorcycle, and the cameras only transmit the image of “suspicious” objects to a large display in the center of the dashboard.
That is, the cameras are usually turned off, and during normal driving the rider is guided by the mirrors. But if a car or something else approaches from behind in such a way that it can collide with a motorcycle, the nearest camera will turn on and the image from it will be displayed on the screen.
Well, since the image may not be enough to determine the direction from which the threat is approaching, the system will support the information with light and tactile indications. Light indicators, according to the patent, can be located on mirrors or on an additional section of the dashboard. And four vibration motors will be built into the saddle, front, rear and sides, and with the help of them, the system will report the direction from which the vehicle of concern is approaching.
Well, this way the Indian rider will be literally armed with a sixth sense of danger. But what to do with this information?
The patent shows Indian took care of that too. If the risk is small (the vehicle is not approaching too quickly, and the distance to it is not too short), the system simply blinks the emergency light, like some cars and motorcycles during emergency braking, to attract the attention of the driver of the approaching vehicle: they say, am I here, can you see me?
If this is not enough and the threat becomes more real, the motorcycle will automatically illuminate the brake light and beep. Of course, this does not guarantee that a gape driver will come to his senses, but the chances of being noticed are very high.
Security system based on radars and cameras
Of course, a patent application is far from a guarantee that the system will appear on production motorcycles, but the technologies on which it can be built are available now, and Indian has gained a reputation for being innovative and adhering to the most modern approaches in recent years, so additional a security system based on radars and cameras may very well appear on motorcycles from Springfield in the very near future.
Moreover, the Indian radar system also implements adaptive cruise control, and according to the data from the patent application, it is able to identify the type of vehicle in front of the motorcycle, and in the settings it will be possible to set different distances to different types of vehicles in front of the motorcycle.
And besides, even with the cruise control turned off, the radar can warn the rider that he has approached the vehicle in front too close, also based on the distance options set for different types of vehicles. For example, when driving in a convoy, it is very desirable to keep a small distance so that passing cars do not try to wedge into it. And when driving behind a car or truck, the distance will be greater. The Indian system is able to distinguish between motorcycles, cars, pickups and trucks and set a separate distance to each variant.
It is also curious that according to the patent, this system can be installed not only on the company’s heavy tourers with a large TFT display on the dashboard: the patent application is accompanied by an image of an Indian Scout with a simple monochrome LCD display in the speedometer showing the type of vehicle, for which the motorcycle rides.
And finally, a couple of images in the application indicate other developments, although this is not mentioned in the document. So, the sketches contain an image of a steering wheel without a clutch lever.
Is Indian working on a semi-automatic bike and haven’t told us about it yet?