Radar Assist for Motorcycles? How About Cameras?
Rider-Assist Cameras Being developed by Kawasakiby Harry Fisher, on
The never-ending quest to develop new rider-assist systems is about to take another step forward as Kawasaki is developing cameras for fitment to motorcycles
Rider-Assist Cameras To Become a Reality?
Rider safety is an increasing focus for motorcycle manufacturers, borrowing technology from the automobile industry and applying it to motorcycles in the form of front and rear radar sensors to cover blind spots and make bikes more visible to cars.
Kawasaki, Ducati, BMW and KTM have all adopted radar-assist systems, mounted at the front and rear of the bikes, the front sensor enabling adaptive cruise control and collision warning and the rear sensor being a blind-spot monitoring system. Now, however, Kawasaki is taking another leaf from car manufacturers and developing a camera-based system to work in collaboration with the radar sensors.
Cameras are common on cars but Kawasaki will be the first motorcycle manufacturer to mount a camera in the nose of the bike to relay even more information to the rider. The patent application drawings show what is obviously a Ninja H2 SX motorcycle which makes sense as the current radar systems are H2 SX-mounted so it would be natural for Kawasaki to apply the new camera technology to that flagship bike as well.
Sharp-eyed observers noticed that a camera was mounted on the H2 SX in spy shots of the 2022 model back in 2021, even though it didn’t make it to the production model. The fact that it was there, however, means that it exists and, given that piece of evidence, Kawasaki intends it to be a part of a future model.
But what would a camera do that the rider’s eyes and the radar systems cannot? it is likely that it would be primarily used in conjunction with the headlight, allowing it to dip automatically from high beam when an approaching vehicle is detected. With the ever-increasing sophistication of adaptive headlights with multiple ’zones’ that illuminate different parts of the road, the camera could help with dipping certain sections of the headlight to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers while still illuminating the road sufficiently to keep the rider safe.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Radar is great for detecting a closing distance, for example when a vehicle in front starts slowing down, and applying the brakes to maintain the distance. A camera could add to the system by ’seeing’ brake lights come on, giving the bike a vital split second extra to take avoiding action.
Another potential use could be recognising road signs - hazard warnings, speed limits, traffic lights and so on and flashing a message up on the dashboard or mirror-mounted LEDs to alert the rider or allowing the bike to take its own actions to comply.
If all this sounds like another step towards a self-riding motorcycle, then you’d have to say ’yes’, no matter how scary a thought that is to those of us who dislike the idea of not being in control of our own machine at all times.
How likely is camera technology to be fitted to future Kawasakis? Well, look closely at current Ninja H2 SXs and you will see that mounting brackets are already fitted to the instrument panel bracket which is, in turn, mounted to the steering head tube. Either the camera will be available as an option or will be fitted to full-house models.
Of course, a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean the idea will find its way into production but it’s hard to see an argument against fitting it to a motorcycle as a natural progression from radar.