BMW’s ironically named ConnectedRide

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bmw-connectedride

With a camera to watch the road for you, lights that flash if something goes wrong, a crash sensing computer that automatically calls for help, warnings for bad weather, obstacles and emergency vehicles and assistants to keep you safe from cross traffic, left turns, passing cars and even red lights, the ConnectedRide concept builds on the already advanced safety features of the BMW K1600GT. If this is where BMW is going, then the future of motorcycling looks to be safer than sipping coffee in the comfort of your own home.

ConnectedRide is comprised of ten different rider aids. The first three are active systems that can exercise control over the motorcycle: flash the lights and honk the horn, call for help and apply the brakes. The other seven are informational, though in some cases they can work synergistically with the three active systems to enhance visibility. They include: speed information to time green lights, weather data, road obstacle and data scanning, emergency vehicle warning, notifying nearby BMW’s (even cars) with ConnectedRide if your braking in front of them, scanning for drivers waiting to turn left and increasing turn signal visibility when passing.

Assuming these features function properly, some of them would probably add safety. The most practical are:

Daytime Riding Light
Incredibly bright LEDs make it so the Prius about to turn left in front of you knows you’re coming. Good idea, though not very original. People (myself included) have been installing high-power HID low-beams for years, running high-beams during the day and sometimes even running headlight modulators, which strobe your running lights. People directly in front your bike, whether or not they’re oncoming or moving in your direction can always see you. They may still try to hit you though. Not much of a new concept.

Automatic Collision Notification
The idea is that, if you crash and are incapacitated, the bike automatically calls for help. GPS ride trackers have existed for a while now and all this adds is BMW branding and a call center. BMW’s system also records “more detailed information on the nature of the accident,” which would likely include speed, lean angle, G-forces, braking force, wheel-spin or lock, traction control settings, engine speed and throttle opening. BMW would then have access to that information. It may help paramedics to know those things ahead of time, but they may also inform police, your insurance company or use it to void your warranty. An independent third party who only worked with paramedics would be much better for those reasons, this sounds a little too much like Big Brother.

Camera Based Rider Information and Assistance
This feature can display speed limits on the dash after reading them off the road signs with that onboard camera and also detects distance and tracks the location of objects relevant to the bike. If there is a risk of collision, the system displays a warning, flashes headlights, day-time running lights and turn signals, prepares the brake system for intervention and even honks the horn at people attempting to pull out in front of you.

That said, let’s imagine a motorcyclist who is used to having his bike pay attention to lots of things for him. First, it’s unlikely that the computer can monitor the road better than a person can so relying on systems like this to save you from dangerous situations seems unwise. Secondly, a rider used to such aids would most likely become a danger to himself and others when he hopped on a real bike free of such aids. “Oh my, a moose is wandering into the road ahead of me and my bike is failing to warn me or taking evasive action on its own, whatever shall I do?!”

Be your own high-tech notification system. Read the road signs, use the lights on your bike to your advantage, cover your brakes and honk when someone tries to endanger you. As a motorcyclist, you should be paying attention to these things anyway. It’s unlikely a computer with a single camera and a few crude sensors will be able to do this more effectively than an experienced, attentive motorcyclist. It’s hard not to draw a parallel between ConnectedRide concept and the ridiculous ultra-futuristic dashes and craptastic speech warning systems of ’80s cars. Remember the synthesized voice warned you when the door was ajar? ConnectedRide’s automatic flashing lights and speed limit display are eerily similar and maybe just as useless.

  • NitroPye

    I try not to take too much stock in concept vehicles. I worked at a car company R&D branch up until recently and most meetings about what future features to work on revolved around what new cool tech someone wanted to play with.

    The speed limit recognition is actually pretty cool because it has plenty of other uses since its recognizing text. It could translate street signs and the like. I saw similar tech in action and it worked rather well on a freeway.

    • Taco

      Speed Limit Recognition, who needs that? Modify it to scan for pretty girls. When one is detected, the bike honks its horn and I’ll wave at them. That’s something I’d absolutely check off on the options list.

      • dux

        Sign me up as well. It could become the best selling option in Mexico!

  • Beale

    Terrible things happen when you run over caution signs in Germany.

  • KP

    The speed limit display could be somewhat useful, it’s a nice reference in case you missed the last few signs and aren’t sure any more. What I’m still not sold on is having any kind of GPS device on my bike, I feel I’d be distracted and miss someone braking in front me.

    The car/bike talking to eachother stuff is nice in a perfect world but I’m not entirely comfortable with another device being able to interact with my bike, flash my lights and apply my brakes.

    • NitroPye

      One of my favorite parts of riding is not having a constantly updating map of where I am in front of me.

      No GPS is adventure mode.

      • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

        +1. Sometimes you have to dismount and check your phone, but that’s admitting defeat.

        • NitroPye

          Thats half the fun. Killing the engine and checking your phone / map lets you soak in your surroundings for a bit.

      • Joe

        Most of the times I get on my bike, except when going to/from work, I haven’t yet decided where to go. I just make it up as I go. I’ve never owned a GPS.

        • Mr.Paynter

          +1

      • Ben

        I LOVE having a GPS on my bike. Punch in the desired location at it gives you a direction and a distance. Along the way I’ve got a moving map with every road in a 6 mile radius shown around me. Avoid the little towns that slow you down, Favor the curvy roads, Find gas when you need it, an ACCURATE speedometer, Load tracks for Dualsport rides…

  • dux

    The only thing that isn’t “Connected” is you to your “Ride”

  • ike6116

    This felt very german. EMERGENCIES VEHICLES RESPOND.

    oh, thanks for clearing that up, I thought maybe they’d go get a sandwich.

  • John

    A bit Orwellian.
    The lights have been a good idea for a while.
    The rest, well, just drive then, if you’re that worried.

  • Joe

    I’m a big fan of BMW, but I don’t like this at all. I don’t even like the lights. Every time I see some guy with one of those modulating headlights it makes me want to run into him. They annoy the hell out of me, to say the least. I’m sick to death of everyone using brighter and brighter lights on both cars and bikes, and driving/riding around with their high beams on all the damn time. Whether I’m in the car or on the bike I NEVER use the high beams (except to flash the oncoming car/bike that forgot to dim his). Instrument lighting gets turned down as far as possible to preserve my night vision. It’s no mystery why people can’t see us, there’s too many lights in their faces!

  • rohorn

    Needs more reactive armor…

  • William

    I’m not objecting, simply because I ride a lumpy Ducati that needs a little TLC. I genuinely love the fact that when you are riding well the bike makes you feel 1000 times better and when you are hashing up corners, it lets you know…. My major objection is that people in the UK (for the most part) flash their lights when they WANT someone to pull out or turn infornt of them!

    I suspect there will be a few BMW’s phoning the emergency services if that gets introduced!!

  • http://moto-mucci.blogspot.com/ Moto-Mucci

    Next big features from BMW motorcycles:

    - An extra set of side mounted wheels to reduce the chance of a low/high-sider.

    - Side and rear wind screens to oppose crosswind interference.

    - Perpendicular mounted roll bars for better stability.

    - More cup holders.

    • dux

      Haha. They already make the 1 Series

  • aristurtle

    Hey, this is the sort of gadgetry that the K1600 touring crowd wants. If you don’t want electronics that automatically honk at people cutting you off or whatever, BMW also makes a bike where the only electronics there are the ones that make you go faster.

    Personally, I like the rotating headlight on this thing and wish it was on more bikes. The rest of the stuff, eh, whatever.

  • carter

    I had always thought of BMW bikes as a real rider’s bike, as opposed to the cars, which since the 80s have been targetted toward status-seeking socially-climbing jerks. Interesting how the core of the Motorrad brand now seems to be shadowing the automobile brand, the bikes are getting hypercomplicated (who could work on them?), and the riding experience is getting farther removed from the rider. Will the next one have a feature to keep the tassles on my loafers from flapping in the breeze? I would love to hear Mr. Nesbitt’s take on this.

  • cadillacjack

    Hey, Captain Obvious here, say maybe the bike makers should put something of great use in their bikes, like, oh I don’t know, radar detectors?!?!