Damon prototypes shape-shifting electric motorcycle with 360-degree collision warnings
A Canadian startup is trying to push some pretty out-there new technologies into the motorcycle world. Variable riding position geometry, for one, as well as a traffic-tracking collision warning system designed to give riders an extra margin of safety on the road.
There's a lot going on here, so let's start with the essentials. Damon is a new motorcycle technology company based in Vancouver, Canada. It's working on a number of projects, which will hopefully eventually combine in a new electric motorcycle model as pictured above. The company has managed to raise some CAD2.5 million (US$1.9 million) in seed funding, and says it plans to "Damonize" other manufacturers' bikes by being a supplier of next-gen bike safety tech that can be implemented at the factory.
Damon calls its system AWSM, or the Advance Warning System for Motorcycles. It combines radar, cameras and other sensors, as well as onboard neural net computing, to track up to 64 objects around the motorcycle as it's on the move, analyzing their trajectories and behaviors to anticipate accidents and other dangerous conditions.
Once a potential issue is recognized, the AWSM system communicates warnings to the rider. There are LED strips across the bike's cockpit, which can light up on either side, vibration units that can shake each grip individually, and a big ol' rear view camera embedded in the dash giving you a wide-angle look at what's behind you.
The system is connected by an onboard 5G datalink to Damon's central computers, and any time something of interest happens, it's logged and sent home to be analyzed and potentially used to educate the rest of the "Damonized" fleet about an ever-growing range of road situations. In this way, the system can learn and improve its rider feedback over time.
If that seems a bit pie in the sky to you at the moment, the Damon team has a working test mule, built on what looks like an MT-07 Yamaha, that it's already trotting out for demo rides – and the company has just announced it's sold the AWSM system to the West Vancouver Police Department as a way to increase the safety of its riders, which will see it installed on a fleet of BMW RTP1250s. Damon is hoping the system catches on to the point where it can be offered to manufacturers, either as an option or as baseline built-in technology.
If collision warnings weren't enough of a mouthful to chew on, Damon is also working on variable riding position geometry. It's building another bike, which is an electric powered by what looks like a Zero Z-Force motor, that gives riders the ability to move the three key points of contact with the motorcycle and completely change the bike's geometry and riding feel.
The seat, footpegs and clip-on bars are all mounted to electronically movable points so they can slide up and down. Thus, on the highway, you can bring the bars up toward you, drop the pegs down and have a nice comfy, relaxing ride, but when you hit the canyons you can raise the pegs and seat for extra ground clearance, and drop the bars down to give you a sharper sports riding position.
There's some very weird stuff in play here, and it would be a fascinating exercise to go through a set of corners changing these parameters individually to see exactly what kinds of effects it has on the bike's handling, comfort and character.
Both Damon's technology gambles are ambitious, but by demonstrating an ability to get both investors and fleet customers on board, the company's founders are a solid two steps ahead of many startups in this kind of space, and a company to watch going forward.