Motorcycling: The Next Ten Years
Bike UK|January 2018

Imagine a world where bikes know where cars are coming from, and vice versa. A world where there are no traffic jams, far fewer collisions and no filthy smog. In this building a very different future of motorcycling is being created. And it’s got an awful lot going for it, especially for bikers…

THE ITS WORLD Congress is part trade show, where familiar automobile companies such as Honda and Toyota, and suppliers such as Bosch, show off their latest self-driving projects. Lesser-known companies that make everything from computer chips to the cameras used in autonomous vehicles vie for attention. Meanwhile upstairs, hundreds of technical sessions take place over four days. It’s Glastonbury for the nerds working on next-gen autonomous automobiles and connected traffic systems.

Sessions have cryptic titles such as 5G in ITS: Powered by Satellite Communications. But this year, for the first time, there was also Utilizing V2X to Create the Future of Connected Motorcycles. And there was a booth introducing thousands of car guys and computer geeks to the Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC).

It’s about time. Several major carmakers formed the Car 2 Car Communication Consortium in 2002, visualizing a future in which every vehicle continuously communicated its position, vector and basic intention to others nearby. Car 2 Car’s goal was to radically cut road accidents and smooth traffic. Imagine rush hour flows that resemble the movements of a school of fish, not the stop-and-go wheezing of an out-of-tune accordion.

That vision is science, not science fiction. Every major car maker and tech giant such as Google and Apple have invested billions of dollars, euros, pounds and yen to make it happen.

Literally every new car on the drawing board is self-driving. Volkswagen have promised their vehicles will offer the first stages of connectivity (for example relaying drivers information about accidents ahead) by 2019. Renault say they will offer their first truly self-driving car by 2020. Tesla claim many of their cars already have the hardware for fully robotic operation, ie they only need a software update to enable it. Governments, including the European Union and UK, are loathe to over-regulate this new area for fear that if they do they’ll stifle R&D and drive away jobs.

Even accounting for car makers’ optimism you’ll share the road with robots in a decade or less. To ensure a place for motorcycles in smart traffic, BMW, Honda and Yamaha formed the CMC in 2015. The group agreed to share information and liaise with the auto industry to ensure we can safely share the road with other autonomous vehicles.

Let’s start with the bad news…

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