Smart lids up around the bend

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - CRAIG DUFF

THE next safety ad­vance for mo­tor­bike riders is a head-up dis­play in the hel­met.

BMW pre­viewed its dat­apro­ject­ing lid at this week’s an­nual Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show but says the in­no­va­tion is still a few years away from pro­duc­tion.

The ad­van­tage of the pro­posed fac­tory setup over ex­ist­ing af­ter­mar­ket head-up de­signs is own­ers don’t have to mod­ify their bike’s wiring or fit a new switch­block on to the han­dle­bars to op­er­ate it.

BMW’s hel­met setup com­prises a mini­com­puter, speak­ers, a pair of cam­eras and a panel in front of the rider’s right eye to dis­play the in­for­ma­tion. The for­ward­fac­ing cam­era can cap­ture video of the trip while the rear lens is in­tended to op­er­ate as a “dig­i­tal rearview mir­ror”.

A pair of bat­ter­ies in the hel­met give about five hours’ op­er­at­ing time and riders can tai­lor the in­for­ma­tion be­ing shown from a ba­sic speed dis­play to the bike’s fluid lev­els, road sign recog­ni­tion, nav­i­ga­tion dis­plays and traf­fic jams or road haz­ards ahead.

BMW’s un­der­stated press release says con­stant ob­ser­va­tion of the road “would ap­pear even more im­por­tant with mo­tor­cy­cles than it is with cars, be­cause it can some­times only take a brief vis­ual dis­trac­tion to put the rider in a crit­i­cal road sit­u­a­tion”.

The brand takes mo­tor­bike safety se­ri­ously and was the first bike maker to fit ABS as stan­dard equip­ment across its range.

BMW en­vis­ages the HUD in­te­grat­ing with ve­hi­cle-tove­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tions to trans­mit road in­for­ma­tion in real time. For ex­am­ple, riders in a group can tell whether their col­leagues are ahead or be­hind.

Riders want­ing this tech­nol­ogy to­day need to look at tech from Livemap, Reevu, Skully, In­tel­li­gent Cra­nium and BikeSys­tems.

In much the same way as the hel­met HUD has evolved from use in cars, BMW also demon­strated a K1600 GTL tourer fit­ted with laser head­lights de­rived from its i8 and top-spec 7 Se­ries ve­hi­cles.

The lights can dou­ble a rider’s night-time vis­i­bil­ity to about 600 me­tres, a mas­sive help on coun­try roads where kan­ga­roos cause mo­tor­cy­cles grief.

BMW con­cedes the tech­nol­ogy is too ex­pen­sive to fit to mo­tor­bikes yet, but predicts economies of scale re­sult­ing from greater adop­tion by car brands will make it an eco­nomic propo­si­tion “in the medium term”.

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