Eyes for your bike: Bolt-on camera tech could make biking safer

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Next year sees the start of something new in motorcycling as the Bosch-developed radar system used by Ducati and BMW gives top-end bikes' on-board computers a picture of what’s going on around them for the first time... but at a price.

While not as integrated and sophisticated as the Bosch radar, Israeli operation RideVision are hoping to offer a degree of aftermarket spatial awareness for your bike as a bolt-on, artificial intelligence-driven safety system deploying a pair of cameras instead of radars.

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The company have already secured some £8 million in backing through seed funding, venture capital and crowdsourcing, and intend to have their system on the market during 2021 for around £320.

Get too close and the system will warn you

Unlike the radar-based Bosch system, which debuts in the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 and BMW R1250RT, the RideVision setup doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control. Instead it uses wide-angle cameras on the front and rear of the bike, connected to their own standalone computer unit and mirror- mounted alert lights to constantly monitor and analyse the traffic around you, flashing warnings via the mirror-mounted lights if you’re getting too close to vehicles ahead, if you’re approaching the car ahead too fast, or if there’s something lurking in your blindspot before a manoeuvre.

What’s more, the cameras can also be used to record rides, acting like dashcams to catch the behaviour of other road users or simply for fun footage. The firm say the wide-angle lenses of the cameras mean there’s near 360-degree coverage between front and rear.

The RideVision concept isn’t the first attempt to offer blindspot monitoring. Other systems making their way to the market include Innovv’s ThirdEye and another from Senzar that was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2019, but they were both based on ultrasonic sensors – like the parking sensors on cars – rather than cameras and only work to the rear. BMW’s C650 scooters had a similar built-in setup from 2015.

Cameras, however, are increasingly used on cars for their safety systems, often tying in with road sign recognition software to keep you posted about speed limits, and in some cases – notably on Subarus – used in stereo pairs to accurately judge distances and operate adaptive cruise control, lane assist and emergency braking systems.

Motorcycles are also starting to go down the camera route. Benelli’s new 1200cc cruiser, for instance, has front and rear cameras built in as safety aids, and RideVision’s own patents say their technology could also be used with adaptive cruise control, potentially making it a true Bosch rival.

The system will alert you to dangerous overtakes

Camera tech explored:

  • Info in your pocket A smartphone app for iOS and Android links to the setup, so the videos can be played on your phone and synced with speed and GPS data.
  • Interconnected Wide-angle front camera monitors vehicles ahead and to the sides, sending video to the electronic control unit.
  • Mirror mirror Red on both mirrors means you’re too close or approaching the car in front too fast, yellow in one mirror means there’s something in your blindspot on that side.
  • You're on camera Matching rear camera keeps an eye out behind and watches your blindspots to aid safety.
  • Wheels within wheels The ECU uses object-recognition to identify vehicles, comparing their size and positions from frame to frame to see how they’re moving in relation to you.

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Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis