The recent advancements in mechantronics and sensor technology have enabled a plethora of automotive safety features and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) but at present, they are largely limited to four wheelers and commercial vehicles. Thanks to continued research in this field, components that make up such sophisticated systems have grown smaller in size and could now be implemented on a motorcycle.
Honda has filed an interesting helmet-mounted collision avoidance system whose objective is to warn the rider before hand in case of a potential rear-ending by another vehicle. The system involves a rear-facing camera embedded into the helmet shell which can capture a series of image frames. These frames are then properly oriented based on the spatial position data coming from the inertial measurement unit (also mounted within the helmet).
The system can identify a target vehicle in the image frames with a the help of the sensors and calculate the speed and position on real-time basis. If an imminent crash is expected, the system will issue a warning to the rider (probably through haptic output like vibration on the handlebar grips or seat).
The highly advanced system would require a lot of hardware on the helmet including camera, sensors, IMU, circuit boards, power source, etc. It would be challenging to accommodate all these items within helmet without compromising on its crash safety standard and weight. It is not impossible though. We are not entirely sure how the presence of a pillion rider would affect the performance of the system.
Also, such a system warrants high on-board computing power since a lot of data needs to be captured, refined (noise reduction) and processed real-time before the final warning is issued by the motorcycle. There should also be a wireless means of communication between the helmet and the motorcycle. The whole system would be significantly expensive.
Two wheeler makers are actively developing safety enhancing technologies including radar-based systems to detect potentially dangerous scenarios and forewarn the rider. The future motorcycles will pack a comprehensive suite of electronic systems just like a modern car. Honda’s patent signals that smart helmets would be very much part of the advancement.