A Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system for motorcycles has been announced by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), reports national news agency Bernama. The technology is capable of detecting the vehicles in front and warn riders to avoid collisions even at a high speed, says MIROS Director-General Dr Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim.

The system, designed to be marketable and widely used by Malaysian motorcyclists, will be available in the near future. Dr Khairil says, “collision warning is given through three stages and emphasises the ability to keep riders aware of impending danger in a timely manner,” without providing further details as to how the technology is supposed to function.

“The main design principles are high impact, low cost, user-based, and easily installed through upgraded design (retrofit design),” Dr Khairil said in a statement today. It was reported collision warning using the system would be given in three stages with an emphasis on warning the rider of impending danger.

According to the MIROS statement, LIDAR-based technology is a key component of the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), designed to prevent vehicle collisions as well as death and injuries. Currently, LIDAR is currently being developed for use in autonomous vehicles like Google and Uber self-driving cars.

However, such a system is fairly large, requires a laser range-finder mounted in a clear spot in a central position on the vehicle and draws a large amount of the vehicle’s power output in terms of electrical energy. Commercially available systems from companies such as Velodyne, Argo AI and Aurora Innovation are typically bulky, expensive and can cost up to USD 75,000 (RM303,435).

Distance keeping and warning systems for motorcycles is not new, with BMW Motorrad developing Active Cruise Control (ACC) and Ducati installing front and rear radar for the fourth generation Ducati Multistrada V4, a world’s first, as well as a collaboration between Ducati and Audi for collision warning between four- and two-wheelers. However, these systems use radar sensing to work, a technology available in cars for several years now in systems like blind spot warning and parking proximity sensors.

Additionally, systems used by BMW Motorrad and Ducati integrate the radar into the motorcycle’s ride infrastructure, including throttle, brakes and cornering ABS to prevent abrupt braking and acceleration dynamics and maintain stable rideability. Like ABS, ACC and distance warning systems are not designed to be retrofitted into motorcycles which do not have such systems installed, something MIROS claims it is developing with its LIDAR system.

In a new development, both BMW Motorrad and Yamaha Motor have announced their involvement as of December 2020 in the Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC), a grouping founded in 2016 that also includes motorcycle makers Honda, KTM, Suzuki and Triumph. The Consortium aims to expand on developments brought about by V2X, or Vehicle-to Everything, connectivity systems which seek to increase autonomous communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

CMC is seeking to establish, amongst others, a baseline between car makers and motorcycle manufacturers to allow both types of vehicle to communicate in a standardised manner using on-board systems such as cameras and radar. Future developments from CMC include enhanced motorcycle safety, ensuring that both V2X systems as well as the onboard sensor-based systems of motorbikes and cars work hand in hand and are not used as stand-alone systems.

What do you think, dear reader? Is MIROS on the proper path to enhancing motorcycle safety or is this just another case of announcing a safety innovation for its own sake? Bearing in mind, ABS is yet to be made compulsory for motorcycles in Malaysia with the only reason we have ABS-equipped motorcycles here is because it is mandatory in other markets and manufacturers prefer to make one internationally compliant motorcycle model rather than variants for specific countries.