Big guns collaborate on connected motorbikes

BMW Motorrad, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. are coming together to form the Connected Motorcycle Consortium, which will aim to enhance Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS) for two-wheeled machines.

All three are members of the ACEM (European association of motorcycle manufacturers), which signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014. The MoU states that C-ITS features will be introduced from 2020 onwards, but the three motorcycle giants are coming together now to accelerate the process.

Karl Viktor Schaller  (BMW Motorrad),  Tetsuo Suzuki, (Honda), and Takaaki Kimura (Yamaha).
Karl Viktor Schaller (BMW Motorrad), Tetsuo Suzuki, (Honda), and Takaaki Kimura (Yamaha).

“In order to speed up more motorcycle-specific safety developments, we intend to cooperate to promote a successful implementation of C-ITS in motorcycles and scooters,” says Tetsuo Suzuki, operating officer at Honda.

The announcement was made at this week’s ITS World Congress in Bordeaux, the world’s largest event for intelligent transport systems and services. According to Karl Viktor Schaller, executive vice president of development at BMW Motorrad, other motorcycle manufacturers are also welcome to join the consortium. 

“Our aim is to promote a timely and comprehensive use of cooperative ITS systems in powered two-wheelers offering the potential to improve safety,” he said. “We therefore encourage other companies to join us.” 

Intelligent Transport Systems require the integration of information and communications technology including transport infrastructure, vehicles and users. Basic applications currently exist in GPS navigation systems, where real-time traffic information is provided such as rerouting advice based on traffic jams ahead.

According to the consortium, ITS developed for cars are unsuitable for motorcycles for a number of reasons. Due to the limited space available and the exposed nature of two-wheelers, the systems must be compact, as well as resilient to water, dust and vibration. Software development and algorithms also need to take the unique driving dynamics of motorcycles into account.

“Our companies are already active members of the Car2Car Communication Consortium, in which we work with car and truck makers and other stakeholders on common specifications and standards,” explained Takaaki Kimura, Yamaha’s chief general manager of Technology Centre.

“We came to realise that the specific requirements of motorcycles are beyond the scope of this consortium, however. The next logical step is to enter into a cooperation dedicated solely to the challenges relating to powered two-wheelers.”