Curve signs - Oxley Highway may set safety standard Austroads read Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) Signs warnings

Warnings to help riders corner properly

Future motorcycles might be able to issue warnings to tell you if you have chosen the right apex and speed for a corner, regardless of the posted advisory speed.

Working on the fact that turns taken too quickly or sharply are responsible for nearly a fifth of all motorcycle accidents and 15% of fatalities, researchers have investigated how to alert riders of their errors.

The research is being undertaken by a group from ETH Zurich and KU Leuven who have proposed a solution in their paper “Learning a Curve Guardian for Motorcycles“.

(In case you have heard the name “Leuven” before, they’re the Belgian consultancy to issue the Transport & Mobility study that found if 10% of all private cars were replaced by motorcycles, it would reduce traffic congestion by 40%.)

No roadside signsWarnings sign speed

Researchers Alex Liniger and Simon Hecker say roadside signs with arrows and advisory speeds are not good enough.

In our experience, most advisory speed signs in Australia, like the one above, are actually wildly conservative!

This system would ignore the posted speed sign and provide a real-world alert.

“What we designed is a curve warning system for motorbikes which can alert the rider when they are approaching a curve too fast,” they told us.

“The system performs this task by first calculating the roll angle and the position within the lane of the motorcycle, based on a camera mounted on the front of the motorbike.

“Second, the system queries information about the road ahead from so-called HD maps, which are precise maps for navigation with additional information, such as the road geometry (curvature, inclination) and road attributed information (speed limits).

“With this information, we use a motion-planning algorithm to plan the optimal path and consequent manoeuvre of the motorcycle for the next 200m.

“This path can be seen as the ideal manoeuvre to ride the curve and includes safety margins.”

“We now compare the motorcyclists current manoeuvre to this ideal, calculated manoeuvre and warn the rider if they need to brake or turn too rapidly to align with the ideal manoeuvre, as this would indicate that the driver is reaching the physically safe limits of their motorcycle and riding ability through the curve.”

Warning signs

Germany replaces dangerous steel road signs with plastic signs warnings
(Photoshopped sign)

This warning could be conveyed to the rider either visually on the bike’s instruments, through haptic pads (vibrations in the bars or seat) or through a head-up display in the rider’s helmet. That would be up to the motorcycle or helmet manufacturers who apply this research.

Alex and Simon say their system does not use road signs to warn the rider.

“This allows the system to warn the rider even if the speed limits do not change for a curve ahead,” they say.

“This is common in Switzerland and throughout Europe, where the speed limit for the case study curve in the paper is 80km/h, but the rider needs to slow down to 35km/h to safely manoeuvre through the curve.”

They say their technology also uses map-based road geometry which would warn the rider if the curve is blind or has an unexpected changing curvature.

Early warnings

Their early warnings compare with safety systems such as ABS and EBS, which only take action when the rider has already “crossed the limit of handling”.

“Our system is designed to only warn the rider and not intervene, thus it is actually less invasive than current safety systems and helps to keep the riding experience pure,” the say.

Their research paper so far only shows preliminary results and they say further work is necessary to allow this system to run real-time on a motorcycle.

  1. These warning signs are for trucks, so they do not fall over. Also a guide to learners and beginners.
    Just stick to the posted limit.

  2. Waste of time trying to cope with incompetent rider/drivers by increased technology. Just more money wasted on ideas and their perpetrators. We certainly don’t need another reason to watch our instruments instead of the road.
    Advisory speed signs are good quick and simple guides to how fast you can take a corner in the wet with a caravan on tow and half bald tyres.
    On a bike you can add 100% if the conditions are excellent (and your bike and skills are), or you can subtract 50% if it’s wet or covered in gravel from trucks cutting the corners.
    It should be obvious that advanced training is the only solution.

  3. Its important to remember that these corner signs are an advisory speed suggestion for a particular corner section of road.
    The speed advisory figure is calculated in factoring in unfavorable driving and riding conditions, so as a result, some may well be some what conservative, particularly when the conditions are much more favorable for motoring and especially so for motorcyclists of limited degrees of skill.

  4. I ride using the best technology available: my brain. But I must admit it’s hurting right now trying to get itself around all these “aids”.

  5. According to the instructors at HART, the advisory speed is chosen to give you 5 seconds of vision all the way into and around the corner, so it not only takes into account the tightness of the curve but also the surrounds.

    In the case of the 40km sign in your story, the hill on the left obstructing your view will be a factor in the corner being signposted at just 40km.

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