Ducati to fit front and rear radars (and adaptive cruise control) to motorcycles by 2020
Yet more safety and driver assist technologies are set to move from the car world into the motorcycle world, with Ducati announcing it will release a motorcycle fitted with front and rear radars in 2020 as part of its "Safety Road Map 2025" strategy.
The rear radar will enable blind spot warnings, providing a visual indication of when something's coming up behind you on either side in traffic, like you now get on many car mirrors, while the front one will be used to give bikes an adaptive cruise control system that reads the speed of a vehicle in front and varies cruise speed to maintain a safe distance.
Thankfully, no mention is made of any kind of automatic emergency braking system. This kind of thing is terrific in helping prevent and reduce the severity of accidents in cars, but could easily fling bikers head-first off the bike or prevent them from making use of their superior manoeuvrability and narrow footprint to avoid a crash altogether.
There does, however, appear to be some sort of collision warning system built in that could wake up a distracted rider, or at least make their final moments a bit noisier and more confusing.
The move is part of Ducati's multi-phase safety push, which includes things like fitting cornering ABS to every bike in the range, and working with Dainese to produce jacket-mounted airbag systems that interact with the motorcycle to pre-inflate before the rider hits the ground when a collision is detected.
In some ways, this news is very positive; blind spot warnings are terrific, and adaptive cruise is a brilliant road rage buster that dramatically lowers cortisol levels in traffic – at least, in a car. In other ways, it'll form part of the general northward push in motorcycle prices, as radars don't come cheap. And it certainly adds further electronic complexity to bikes that are already getting difficult to self-service.
The times sure are a-changing, and it'll be interesting to see how these features fit in with the motorcycling experience.