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Mira, Mira on the wall……

January 29, 2011


Gainsborough, England – You may recall the fairytale, penned by the Grimm’s, in which the Queen possesses a magical mirror, an animate object that answers any question she chooses to ask…..

It would be very handy to own such a mirror, not only could one the find out the result of tomorrows 3.15 race at Kempton Park but for the motorcyclist it would be a useful tool to discovery what delights are ahead technology wise.

But then perhaps we already have some insight into the ending of this motorcycling fairy tale. This week Mira – get it! – (formerly known as the Motor Industry Research Association) have  broken cover on the BBC technology website and laid bare to the world in general and motorcyclists in particular how wonderful the future is going to be, thanks to the European Union SafeRider research project.

It’s all here, on bike systems that warn about speed limits, the tightness of bends, information about other vehicles to aid lane-changing, collision detection, a “co-pilot” which, with the help of a digital map, ‘advises’ on the correct speed to make it round a bend. All connected to the rider via head up displays, laser scanners, haptic handlebar grips and gloves, vibrating seats and helmet cheek pads, lights and smart helmet-cameras. And some of it, according to Mira, will be here in only two years.

Jonathan Moore, an ITS consultant at Mira, involved in the Saferider project said: “Saferider takes the driver safety systems that are becoming standard on cars and tries to adapt them to the unique needs of motorcyclists.”  Ok so buy a car! On SafeRider systems being a boon to less experienced bike riders. Jonathan commented: “They do not give the attention to the road they should or have the experience to deal with problems.” Obviously offering a huge number of info tech inputs to the rider is going to improve attention!

A point supported over at Right to Ride EU who countered Moore’s comment “One of the most difficult things is getting the rider’s attention,” with “Well Jonathan, perhaps that’s because the rider is concentrating on riding the motorcycle, the job at hand. So you recognise that distraction is a bad thing but then fit scanners, haptic handles and gloves, a vibrating seat, lights, smart helmet-cameras and radar.”

Meanwhile in Brussels, on the same day that Mira broke the SafeRider story, Wim van de Camp Rapporteur for the EU Framework Regulation(s) on motorcycle anti-tampering, modification, emissions and noise checks, tells the European Parliament Committee for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) that; rider training is an essential part of motorcycling safety and that riders should be trained to avoid distraction and focus on the road environment.

I’m a bit confused!

Wow! Hold on a minute this Mira thing, it’s not to do with self-interest is it? SafeRider actually ended last November. Is this sudden publicity connected to obtaining more EU funding for Mira and the other nineteen members of the SafeRider consortium. After all they did say further research was needed.

Then there’s the two years to fitting the Mira promoted devices. Hang on that’s a neat fit with the implementation of the EU Framework Regulations. There’s not a cosy deal being done is there. The ‘industry’ agree to fit all these thing’s and get a concession on something else.

What about Galileo, Europe’s years late and billions of Euros overspent very own GPS system. All this SafeRider stuff is GPS based. It’s unlikely that it will connected to the current systems supervised by either the Pentagon or the Russian bear. Bit of international discord, no GPS, every bike rider in Europe is in a ditch. No what we need is a nice civilians system. Coincidentally Galileo will come on steam in 2014. The low-precision basic service will be available for free while the high-precision services will be paid for. Could it be that we will have to pay for GPS connection to all the wondrous SafeRider ephemera that we are promised? Hey a tax on safe riding!

Shall we discuss the mandatory fitment of SafeRider devices via EU Directives. Err no, my brain aches!

Ride safe, have fun and may Galileo watch over you!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

3 Comments leave one →
  1. M.D. Toro permalink
    January 31, 2011 5:07 pm

    Seems like FEMA has waded in in favour of the Saferider project:

    Gems like “as a breakthrough project, SAFERIDER could not run tests deep and wide enough to fully assess the systems’ effects on basic riding tasks.

    When performed, tests mainly involved simulators, which do not fully reflect real-life conditions. Testing on real motorcycles have only been performed on a small scale, which does not allow for proper evaluation of the impact on behaviour, decision-making, awareness, distraction or comfort.

    With limited data on user perception, acceptance and willingness to buy, it is hard to draw conclusions on whether these systems have a true potential in assisting riders.”

    That’s BS if ever I saw it.

    To start with the tests on bikes NOT simulators, were carried out on a test track at MIRA and at Yamaha in Italy. There was an invitation to riders to come and test the bikes at MIRA and give their views. Same as before when riders were asked to come along to MIRA to test the ISA bikes. When the riders gave the thumbs down to the ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation) throttle control, the government listened and decided not to pursue it! I understand that the riders that tested the Saferider bikes at MIRA were not impressed at all.

    The consortium carried out a survey of over 4000 riders across Europe and the overwhelming majority stated that they wouldn’t waste their money on the warning gadgets. So how much data do they need?

    It seems like this whole spin is so that the Consortium can put their hands out for more money and more likely FEMA hopes to get a cut – because they’re certainly not getting more funding from their falling membership.


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