The system is built around a backrest shell and sensors which are controlled by onboard computers
Seatbelts have proven to be a boon to vehicular safety and we cannot thank Volvo enough for not just creating them but also releasing the patents to the entire world. While this simple and purely mechanical technology has been a mainstay for safety in vehicles with four or more wheels, it strangely hasn’t found any place in two-wheelers.
However, it seems that an Italian designing firm has come with a solution regarding this. Italdesign has patented a smart seat belt system for motorcycles and scooters which will protect the rider in case of an accident. The company is also responsible for creating some of the most iconic automotive designs including Ducati 860 GT, first-gen Volkswagen Golf and Lamborghini Gallardo.
This system has the capability to recognise the type of accidents and react accordingly and thereby minimising possible injuries. It has been designed to keep the rider in place in certain accidents while in other kinds of accidents it allows a rider to separate from the bike if and when needed. This is carried out with the help of onboard computers and sensors.
How Does the System Work?
The system is built around a rigid, shell-like backrest that is attached to the two-wheeler via a flexible joint. The rider wraps around the backrest shell is a type of 6-point harness allowing the rider to move to a certain degree. A quick-release system that allows the entire backrest shell to get uncoupled from the two-wheeler when needed.
In the event of an accident, the algorithms from the computers will be able to identify the best course of action whether to release the rider or hold them intact. It is somewhat similar to deployment of airbags in cars.
In case of a head-on collision, the system will keep the rider in place and thus prevent him/her from being flung off the two-wheeler and making the situation grimmer. In other cases like losing traction around a corner and sliding the system will detach the rider from the vehicle along with the backrest.
Applicable to which kind of vehicles?
It is still unclear as to which stage of development this system is in. While the idea appears to be an interesting concept, more details on it will help us reach an appropriate judgment.
And although the smart seatbelt mechanism does allow a wee bit of movement for riders, it certainly does not seem suitable for engaging types of motorcycles where movement of body is of paramount importance to gain optimal performance. At best, it could be tried out for beginner riders or at scooter and commuter motorcycles.