October 23, 2008 No matter what your skill level, being aware of what's going on around you is THE most critical safety factor for all road users - if you don't see it coming, you are in big trouble. For motorcyclists, who are simply less visible on the roads and face a much greater risk of death or serious injury in the event that an accident does occur, this factor becomes even more important. In the past, the technology dedicated to inter-vehicle communication has been limited to blowing the horn or perhaps catching a radio report of an accident up ahead, but things are changing fast. This brings us to Honda's latest innovation in the field. The company has debuted a new Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication (V2V) system aimed at reducing road casualties of both motorcyclists and car drivers which links vehicles within a defined radio range via a wireless LAN network to provide immediate access to data on vehicle location, accidents, congestion or other potential threats that lie ahead.
The system monitors the position, speed, distance and direction of surrounding road users and the collected data is centralized before being sent to drivers and motorcyclists. For the latter, the information can be accessed on their navigation system display or relayed by means of an in-helmet audio system.
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The HMI (Human Machine Interface) concept developed by Honda provides both a visual and an audible warning in safety critical situations. The visual element is located close to the rider's lin-of-sight on the upper edge of the motorcycle dashboard and uses changes in color and intensity to intuitively communicate the nature of the threat. This is backed by an audible warning delivered through a Bluetooth link to an in-helmet speaker.
Developed within the ASV (Advanced Safety Vehicle) program in Japan, Honda demonstrated the system for the first time at the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium event at the Opel Test Track in Dudenhofen, Germany. The consortium brings together a number of vehicle manufacturers with the goal of bringing greater awareness and therefore safety to our roads.
Although there is no room to doubt the premise that greater awareness equals greater safety, the statistics cited by Honda to underpin their commitment to developing this technology make interesting reading.
EU funded research project (Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study or MAIDS) collected in 1999 looked at data from 921 motorcycle accidents in 5 European countries. It was found that 88% of the accidents were mainly caused by human error, while 8% were due to external environmental factors such as weather conditions or road infrastructure. In 37 per cent of cases the motorcyclist was the cause of the accident, while in 50 per cent of cases the driver of the other vehicle was responsible. Of this 50 per cent, 72 per cent were so-called 'perception' failures, where the driver failed to see the motorcycle, three per cent were 'comprehension' failures (they saw the motorcycle but the brain did not recognize it as such), and 20 per cent were 'decision' failures (they saw the motorcycle but decided to continue with the intended manoeuvre anyway)... i.e. drivers tend not to see motorcyclists.
It's hoped systems like V2V will have an impact in particular problem areas such as accidents at an intersections and left-turn accidents (right-turn in the UK, Ireland, Australia etc) where a other vehicle cuts across the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Work is continuing into extending the scope of the system to assist more difficult situations. This includes identifying when are motorcyclists hidden in "blind-spots" or pinpointing the location of emergency services vehicles when a siren is sounding.
The Car 2 Car Consortium’s research and work, coupled with Honda’s latest safety innovation will result in a new era of road safety for all road users, where vehicle communication systems share vital information with the aim of helping to reduce the number of casualties on the roads," said General Manager of Honda (UK) Motorcycles, Steve Martindale. "Honda fully supports the EU targets for traffic fatality reduction and we’re pleased to be able to further our commitment under the European Road Safety Charter with this latest vehicle communication safety system.”