New tech: Forward-facing camera for 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX

Spy shot of 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX
Spy shot of 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX

Advanced rider-assistance systems are the latest high-tech battleground and with front and rear radars already standard on the 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX, the firm’s next move may be the addition of a camera to bolster the bike’s situational awareness.

This isn’t just idle speculation. When a prototype 2022 Ninja H2 SX was spied on test almost exactly a year ago, it featured a distinctive camera lens peeking out from behind the ‘V’ of the screen, and now Kawasaki have filed patents for a matching camera arrangement that explains how it’s attached to the bike and why.

The H2 SX’s front radar offers an impressive ability to monitor the traffic ahead, enabling adaptive cruise control that keeps pace with the vehicle you’re following, measuring its distance and speed as well as warning of impending danger if you’re closing on an object too fast.

Related articles

But for all their abilities, radars aren’t a complete solution, and cars with advanced driver assistance systems combine them with cameras for a more complete picture. For all its abilities, a radar can’t see colours, for instance.

Nor can it recognise patterns on a surface or measure the intensity of light. Kawasaki’s new patent document, filed in Japan, clearly shows the same camera that was seen on the H2 SX prototype, and explains some of the functions it’s intended to fulfil.

One  of these is to work in parallel with an adaptive LED headlight – again like some of the latest cars – that can dim individual areas. The idea is that rather than switching to low beam to prevent dazzling another vehicle that’s approaching in the dark and losing much of your own vision in the process, the lights only dim the section that’s pointing directly at that vehicle.

2018-2021 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX badge

It’s a proven setup on four-wheels, and while adding the leaning factor of a motorcycle into the mix adds a new layer of complexity, it’s something that’s within reach.

In a simpler version, the camera could work by just automating the light-dipping process – flicking to low beam when it registers an oncoming car. Kawasaki’s patent also suggests it can help with the sort of collision mitigation that the radar offers, and while it doesn’t go into detail as to how, we only need to look at car-based systems to see that cameras can be used to recognise brake lights on vehicles ahead before they even start to slow, making for faster responses than a radar alone.

They can also be used for road sign recognition, allowing an adaptive cruise control like that on the latest H2 SX to respond as speed limits change, and even to tell the difference between a red or green traffic light and provide a warning if you haven’t spotted it. With radars already set to appear on lower-priced bikes with the introduction of Piaggio’s system later this year, cameras could well be hot on their heels as must-have safety tech.

Fast facts

  • The camera itself is likely to be an offthe-shelf unit – probably from Bosch, which supplies Kawasaki’s radar components – that can be integrated with the radar system, just as on many modern cars.
  • The simple, low-cost camera is bolted to the existing tubular front frame section of the 2022-spec Ninja H2 SX and feeds its signal to a separate control unit mounted elsewhere on the bike where the visual information is decoded and combined with info from the radar for an overall picture.
  • A new moulded plastic dash top is needed to suit the camera, along with a lower section below it and a bracket made of either resin or metal. A rubber seal keeps water and dust out.
  • Checking Kawasaki’s official parts diagrams for the 2022 Ninja H2 SX shows that the mounting brackets for the camera are already present on the production bike, so no design changes are needed to accomodate the system.
  • Dash-mounted cam sits behind the screen, ahead of the instruments, in a space where it doesn’t interfere with other components and gets a clear view of the road ahead without harming the aerodynamics.
Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis