A worldwide program to find, encourage, test and develop innovative technology that will improve motorcycle road safety is being launched.
The Motorcycle Technology Evaluation Challenge (MotoTEC) program is being developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute with $US400,000 from Australian company Transurban which operates toll roads both here and in the USA.
A joint press release says MotoTEC seeks to “implement rider-centric research to identify and advance potential new technologies to address the safety and usability needs of riders on the road and around construction work zones”.
The MotorTEC program, to be launched at Virginia Tech’s Research Center in Arlington on August 7, will be conducted in cooperation with motorcycle industry stakeholders.
Major road safety leap
This is a major leap forward for rider safety as motorcycles have not figured greatly in the world’s rapid move toward autonomous vehicles.
Virginia Tech has been a big supporter of the need for autonomous vehicle technology to address the concerns of riders and has stressed that autonomous vehicle applications must consistently detect and respond to motorcycles.
The MotoTEC press release says Virginia Tech and Transurban recognise the “great need for new research and technology that addresses rider safety”.
“MotoTEC is inviting technology vendors with market or near-market ready motorcycle technologies to submit their innovations and products to a steering committee comprised of stakeholders from across the motorcycle industry and transportation domain to evaluate the product’s ability to create a better and safer riding experience for motorcyclists,” it says.
A steering committee will evaluate these innovative solutions and select a final candidate to undergo further study.
“This challenge will provide participants the opportunity to present their technologies and/or solutions at no cost,” the MotoTEC website says.
The successful vendor will receive access to a “well-established network of prominent committee members who help to shape the motorcycle industry” and access to the research capabilities and network of “the largest group of driving safety researchers in the world”.
Virginia Tech has researched many aspects of road safety and in 2016 produced one of the most comprehensive motorcycle crash studies in the past 35 years using 100 riders with five video cameras on their bikes for several months over half a million kilometres.
In 2005 their comprehensive “Naturalistic Driving Study” showed that excessive speed was a cause in just 7% of ‘adverse incidents’ but almost 80% incidents involved driver inattention just three seconds before a crash.