Tech Talk: I.M.U

IMU (which stands for In­er­tial Mea­sure­ment Unit) is an acro­nym that pops up in con­ver­sa­tion more and more of­ten these days when the topic is new bikes. But what ex­actly is it, what does it do, and how does it work? Shinichi Sa­hara, Suzuki's chief en­gi­neer

Motorcycle Monthly - - Tech Talk - Words: Mikko Niem­i­nen

MCM: What is an IMU?

SS: IMU is a de­vice that mea­sures an­gu­lar ve­loc­ity and ac­cel­er­a­tion. Us­ing IMU out­put, things like ve­hi­cle be­hav­iour can be cal­cu­lated.

MCM: How does it work?

SS: IMU out­put cap­tured through CAN com­mu­ni­ca­tion is used in var­i­ous elec­tron­ics sys­tems pa­ram­e­ters. With the GSX-R1000R, IMU out­put is used as the con­trol pa­ram­e­ter for trac­tion con­trol or ABS. In the case of the DL1000, IMU out­put is used as the con­trol pa­ram­e­ter for the ABS or com­bined brake sys­tem.

MCM: Are there dif­fer­ent ver­sions of IMUs?

SS: There are var­i­ous sup­pli­ers ex­ist­ing in the world and there are var­i­ous spec­i­fi­ca­tions of IMU. Mea­sure­ment of an­gu­lar ve­loc­ity, ac­cel­er­a­tion, num­ber of axis, etc. will vary from IMU to IMU.

MCM: Are the units man­u­fac­tur­erspe­cific, if so, how?

SS: The IMUs that Suzuki uses are the ones that passed the level of ac­cu­racy, dura­bil­ity, etc. that Suzuki re­quires (there is noth­ing Suzuk­ispe­cific about the IMUs that Suzuki uses in terms of func­tion­al­ity). Suzuki has been us­ing IMUs as con­trol pa­ram­e­ters in rac­ing, like Mo­toGP.

MCM: Which mo­tor­cy­cles use IMUs and why?

SS: At the mo­ment IMUs are fit­ted to our GSX-R1000s and the V-Strom 1000 range.

The IMU al­lows the 10-stage trac­tion con­trol of the GSX-R1000 to de­liver pre­cise in­ter­ven­tion when re­quired by mon­i­tor­ing the bike’s pitch, roll, and yaw, mean­ing the bike can con­tinue driv­ing for­ward ef­fi­ciently with­out too much wheel spin or with­out be­ing held back un­nec­es­sar­ily.

It also op­ti­mises brak­ing per­for­mance, by pre­vent­ing too much rear wheel lift un­der heavy brak­ing for slow cor­ners, and de­tect­ing lean an­gle of the bike dur­ing cor­ner­ing.

For the V-Strom 1000, the IMU al­lows op­ti­mal ABS con­trol while de­tect­ing lean an­gle of the bike dur­ing cor­ner­ing, giv­ing rid­ers added con­fi­dence and re­as­sur­ance on their long ad­ven­tures, or while hav­ing fun on twisty roads.

MCM: Why does it make a dif­fer­ence?

SS: It makes a dif­fer­ence by in­creas­ing the per­for­mance of rider aids such as trac­tion con­trol for GSX-R1000 and ABS for both GSX-R1000 and V-Strom DL1000. While these sys­tems al­ready work well on a num­ber of ma­chines, the IMU means more in­for­ma­tion is be­ing fed into the ECU, the mo­tor­cy­cle’s brain, which can only mean that those sys­tems are op­er­at­ing with an in­creased level of knowl­edge of what the bike is do­ing at any given mo­ment. This means that the per­for­mance of those rider aids is in­creased.

MCM: What pos­si­ble fu­ture de­vel­op­ments could there be?

SS: Suzuki will con­tinue to pur­sue en­gi­neer­ing that will fur­ther im­prove the ba­sic per­for­mance of ‘run’, ‘turn’ and ‘stop’. Also, Suzuki will be in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of en­gi­neer­ing that brings about im­prove­ment in safety, com­fort and en­vi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness.

GSX-R1000R with no clothes on.

Shinichi Sa­hara, GSX-R1000R chief en­gi­neer.

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