Will Future Cars “See” Motorcycles Better?
Car companies are heralding the day when the industry produces a “zero fatality” automobile. That’s right, aside from a meteor falling on you while driving down the expressway, the automobile industry believes that in the next 10 to 20 years, computer simulations and virtual engineering will enable manufacturers to construct cars with a near zero fatality rating.
New technology will provide magnesium and carbon-fiber parts in strategic locations and active safety systems that slow the car as it follows curves in the road, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication that warns you about approaching vehicular, motorcycle, even pedestrian traffic.
Volvo has gone so far to announce that “By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”
This is great news for motorcyclists, many of who are killed or injured when auto drivers cross into their lane or turn left in their path.
To reach zero fatalaty rating, auto companies are relying on making vehicles that can avoid other vehicles, and in the event of an unforeseeable and unavoidable impact, a vehicle that can crash safer.
Focusing on safer motorcycle crashes is something motorcycle rights activists have lobbied against for years believing that better auto driver awareness is the key to saving motorcyclists lives.
However, some motorcycle manufacturers have, in the past few years, made improvements in protecting motorcyclists during a crash.
American Honda Motor Co. (which includes Honda and Acura cars, as well as Honda motorcycles, motors and power equipment) has dedicated a lot of money and time to crash analyses with high powered computer model simulations in many different scenarios.
Honda was the first and currently the only motorcycle manufacturer to install air bags on a motorcycle. The Goldwing air bag is designed to be deployed in the event of a frontal impact which will slow the operators rate of ejection and th erotically lessen the force of the impact to the operator.
Safety vests, which use compressed gas to instantly inflate upon a rider being ejected from the motorcycle seat have also been marketed and have been successful in several real world accidents.
Automobiles that sense motorcycles and prevent the operator from crossing into the path of the oncoming bike will undoubtedly save many lives, but will have little impact on reducing single vehicle accidents where rider error is the cause, that where safety advocates say additional training is needed.