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New radar sensor from Continental enables motorcycle emergency brake assist

Continental wants to be the first supplier to launch an emergency brake assist system for motorcycles. The new fifth-generation radar sensors from Continental feature capabilities such as enhanced object detection that make it possible to deliver a high-performance emergency brake assist system.

The company’s many years of experience with safety systems in passenger cars and commercial vehicles have been incorporated into the development process for the motorcycle system. Yet, there are differences. An emergency brake assist in a passenger car automatically performs emergency braking with maximum braking force when a collision is imminent; the motorcycle system brakes in a much more measured way. It is designed more to help the rider than to take control itself.

Unlike in cars, motorcyclists are very much exposed to environmental factors such as the wind, weather and vibrations, and this can make riding very challenging. As a result, motorcyclists more frequently find themselves in situations in which it can be difficult to estimate the speeds of other road users. Emergency brake assist for motorcycles is therefore primarily indicative in nature. It draws the rider’s attention to critical situations and makes them more readily understandable.

As is the case with cars, the system reduces speed here as well. However, the goal is to initiate a process that the rider can then take control of. This shortens the response time, which can reduce stopping distance considerably.

—Christian Pfeiffer, ARAS (Advanced Rider Assistance Systems) project manager for the area of 2-Wheelers and Powersports at Continental

Emergency brake assist uses a radar sensor to monitor the area in front of the motorcycle. If there is risk of a collision with a vehicle or any other obstacle in front, the rider is alerted by a visual, audible or haptic warning—in this case, by means of vibrations in the handlebars. Low initial braking pressure then helps the rider with the active braking operation. If the rider does not react to the warning, emergency brake assist automatically builds up braking force if the rider has both hands on the handlebars. The deceleration is much less pronounced than in a passenger car emergency braking system.

The short- and long-range radar sensors from Continental have become even more accurate and powerful with the fifth-generation radar, which will enter series production in 2019. They use improved object detection algorithms, which can detect even smaller objects—such as an exhaust that has fallen off. In addition, the heights of objects can be calculated by means of the elevation measurement capability. This means the sensor can detect the tail of a traffic jam under a bridge or road boundaries such as curbs more accurately. A further advantage that is particularly important given the limited installation space available in motorcycles is that the radar system has been made even more compact.

The radar sensor is not only the central element of the emergency brake assist system; in many modern motorcycles, it is also the only additional component required to put this assist function into practice. Particularly in the high-end segment, all other components are already installed in the motorcycle in most cases.

These include, for example, the sensor cluster, which measures acceleration and yaw rate. The radar system uses the data from the sensor cluster to analyze the current situation, where other road users are and whether emergency braking is necessary as a result. The braking is then performed by the brake control unit, while engine speed is reduced at the same time via the engine control unit. Continental can supply all involved technologies for motorcycles of all sizes from a single source, including the instrument cluster, which warns the rider when a collision is imminent.

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