New patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveal Honda is working on an automatic braking system for motorcycles. The patents describe a system that would apply the brakes when it detects a possible frontal collision, like, say, a car suddenly turning through an intersection.

Honda already has a similar system, called the Collision Mitigation Braking System, on several new 2017 automobiles but the patent applications show Honda is looking at applying the technology to two-wheelers. On cars, CMBS uses a combination of millimeter-wave radar and a camera to determine a potential frontal collision. The patents reveal a similar set-up, but for motorcycles.

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If the system determines a potential crash, the CMBS provides the driver with a warning before applying different levels of braking automatically. While the system isn’t designed to prevent all collisions, Honda says it can at the very least give the driver a better chance of taking corrective action. Reducing speed could also help reduce the severity of a crash.

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For motorcycles, Honda faces the added challenge of adding automatic emergency braking within certain limits to prevent disrupting the rider, which could pose its own risks.

When a potential collision is sensed, the system checks to see whether the rider has already started applying the brakes. If so, the automatic braking system provides supplemental braking pressure while keeping the same ratio of front and rear braking so it feels more natural to the rider.

If the rider had not applied brakes, the system would first activate the rear brake to prevent nose dive. The system then calculates the friction coefficient of the road surface before determining the appropriate braking limits. If the rear brake reaches its lock limit, the system then apples front brake pressure. The system continues to work until the motorcycle is stopped or the obstacle is no longer a threat.

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There’s still a ways to go before this technology makes it to a production motorcycle, if at all. At the very least, we know that Honda is looking into it.

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  • spiff

    Until the moment of impact a motorcycle has a better chance of avoiding an accident. They can change direction, accelerate, shoot a smaller gap and stop much better then most vehicles on the road.

    So here is a scenario: A guy turns right in the intersection directly in your path. If you are in the correct gear you can squirt into the gap of the cars to your left. Or maybe go for the right shoulder/sidewalk. The sidewalk maybe a tough option, but possible, even if you do go down. Another option is to let Honda stop the bike right there so the car, beer truck, etc with it’s driver definitely not on their phone and paying attention can stop before they sandwich you.

    I was hit by a drunk driver, in my truck, when traffic stopped on the highway. He hit me and five cars ahead of me were involved as well. A bike would have been fucked. I always am looking for escape routes when traffic changes. I don’t need backseat drivers or Honda’s input at that moment.

    • HazardtoMyself

      Completely agree here. While the idea of automatic emergency breaking is great for the distracted four wheel hunk of metal, I would be concerned with having this on a bike.

      I would hate for this emergency braking system to kick in unexpectedly when you are trying to avoid the situation instead of just stopping in front of it.

      The only way I see this at all working is if for some reason there is absolutely no where to go, which is usually not the case. At that point could the bike really stop you in time anyway?

      Training, practice and overall situational awareness I believe are going to be a much bigger benefit then having new riders think that the bike will stop for them in bad situations.

      • Stuki Moi

        Objections like yours are why the article states “There’s still a ways to go before this technology makes it to a production motorcycle, if at all. ”
        At the very minimum, cornering ABS needs to be darned near perfected before bikes can start applying brakes on their own, so the bike minimally messes up your attempts at swerving.

        • spiff

          I think the system is fundamentally flawed considering that there are times that applying the brakes won’t be the best option.

  • Kamohelo Mohudi

    track days or breakfast run, high speed you and your buddies and you are close on his tale on a curve so that you can undertake him after the apex…..to brake or not to brake…a lot of research will have to go into this technology hopefully this technology can be switched on/off to prevent an embarrassing moment on the track but in traffic it can hopefully serve its purpose on the smaller displacement bikes i.e 250cc- 500cc as those are associated with learners/beginners

    • Stuki Moi

      Problem is, 250-500cc is also associated with some semblance of cost sensitivity….

      This sounds like the kind of thing Honda would initially bring to the fight against top spec BMW Adventure and Touring bikes. That’s where ABS, traction control and most other new tech not specifically designed to lower lap times, seem to have made their debut.

  • MyName

    While I am always pro-safety… I would be concerned that this kind of thing could become mandatory, and possibly kill motorcycles as we know them.

  • JSTNCOL

    Nope.

  • Dootin

    Sounds scary, Imagine you see the threat, commit to going left of the car about to kill you, fully committed shifting your body weight to steer and then, bang, you lose power and then your brembos lock up.

  • Bryan Spears

    I rarely naysay new tech intended to make motorcycling more safe, but auto braking sounds really dangerous.

  • Danny Reyes

    I applaud Honda for their sense of safety for riders and their thoughtful ingenuity. However, I agree with most of the concerned commenters on this web page. It’s appears concerning, if not dangerous, to have this technology. Maybe it’s just the way the system was described by the author. None the less, I’d rather have more control and personal decision making when braking.

    Though, I have a question for Honda. Would the rear wheel brake properly if the road was wet? Will the emergency braking system have sensors to detect the surface condition of the road at the exact moment it brakes? Not only on a rainy day but also when hitting a slick spot on the road prior to its emergency braking?

    Interesting stuff. I dont like what I read 100% but I do applaud Honda for trying to make riding safer.

    • Brent S

      My assumption would be that the brake assist system would require and be dependent on also having traction control and ABS fitted also, so that it can determine rear and front wheel slippage and adjust accordingly. I would think an IMU would be needed also for situations mid turn… I would think the system would be optional but if you pick up the option you couldn’t get it without ABS and traction control.

      These are my assumptions though, maybe scouring through the patent would lead to more details.

      Not sure what I think about the system yet… I understand the concerns of it affecting avoidance maneuvers but real world target fixation, panic reactions, etc this can be beneficial

  • therr850

    Most commenters have forgotten research shows 75-80% of riders target fixate when confronted with emanate danger. Don’t know if this will truely help but,,,,, maybe.

  • Very worrying that it is thought that automation applying the brakes is going to have a better response than the actions of the rider. Especially with the suggestion it will apply the rear brake first. In the UK we have taught emergency braking as part of our basic to advanced test training syllabuses for many years and it is standard practice across the board to apply the front brake before the back. This is in order to get the weight transferred forward and down on to the front wheel first. We have found that this is by far the best way to avoid the rear wheel locking. A system that second guesses this and applies the opposite is likely to do more harm than good in an emergency situation.

    • denchung

      The reasoning behind applying the rear first is that the braking gives the rider a warning and a chance to apply full braking. Applying brakes to the front wheel without any warning would likely do more harm.

      • Stuki Moi

        The rear brake also seems to be used in order to estimate traction.

        • The only way it can assess the friction is to apply enough braking so traction is starting to be lost. A rider can assess the varying traction ahead through looking at the road conditions, the computer does not have this information. We all will look to avoid drain covers and over-banding for example.
          Traction will also be reduced by the application of the front brake. That is why in the UK we teach people at all levels to apply the front first. If the rear wheel is being braked as the throttle is closed and the front brake applied then it the rear wheel will lock and slide by default.

  • JMDGT

    Snake oil.