Everyone knows that motorcycling can be dangerous, especially in cities. Elon Musk won’t even consider building one, and not out of irrational fear. At a motorcycling event I’ve been to, everybody knew someone who died in the past year on a bike. The stats bear this out, with accidents killing riders 27 times more often than the occupants of cars. Avoiding accidents is also challenging, as many drivers say they “didn’t see” the motorcycle before an accident.
While there have been companies selling electric motorcycles since before Tesla was selling cars, Damon Motorcycles is looking to set itself apart from the competition by offering real safety systems to help reduce collisions.
“Exhaustive studies have shown that in almost half of motorcycle accidents, riders were found to have taken no evasive action before the impact occurred. So we know that riders need more warning time,” said Dom Kwong, Chief Technical Officer of Damon Motorcycles. Damon’s flagship motorcycle — the Hypersport Pro with CoPilot™ — expands the reach of your senses in 360º, giving you that one extra second you need to react to keep you safe on the road.
In other words, the company is taking the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) we’re getting used to in late-model cars and trucks and applying them to the motorcycle world. And really, that’s a tall order, as it’s not feasible to do things like automatic emergency braking (AEB) without seriously risking the safety of the rider. Motorcycles require the rider to move with the bike, balance it, and lean through turns, so taking control of one aspect of the bike through something like AEB or forced steering could cause wrecks instead of preventing them.
To keep riders in control, Damon has decided to have its “CoPilot” system focus on situational awareness instead. It all starts with a suite of sensors providing 360-degree coverage around the motorcycle. The data from these sensors then gets fed into a computer that can track up to 64 moving objects around the motorcycle, calculating the speed and direction of each one relative to the path the motorcycle is on. It then can predict collisions faster than a human would in some cases, or detects possible collisions that a human rider simply wouldn’t see coming in others (like from the rear).
Motorcycle riders need to keep their attention forward, so Damon had to find ways to feed all of this into the rider’s brain without distracting them. To do this, the system gives vibrational feedback through the grips and by lighting up the edge of the windscreen in the direction of the threat. This then gives the rider those extra valuable moments of warning to take evasive action and avoid the collision.
On top of that, the system is designed to learn from its use on the road, in a similar fashion to Tesla’s autopilot. The motorcycles equipped with the system will have 4G connections that allow data sharing so that all bikes learn from each other’s experiences to further improve the system.
Another way the company plans to improve comfort is by offering adjustable ergonomics on-the-fly. With the push of a button, the bike can move the windscreen, seat, footpegs and handlebars move in unison to adjust the rider from a high-speed supersport position, to a comfortable sport-touring position, to full upright commuter position for dense city traffic. The company says it’s akin to having two bikes in one.
While we haven’t had a chance to see this system in action yet, Damon has some demo videos on its website and plans to reveal much more information about the system at CES in January. We’re in touch with the company and hope to update our readers in the near future about how the system works to keep us safer on the road.
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