We’ve been expecting radar-adaptive cruise control to come to the Honda Gold Wing for a while now. In June 2022, patent applications published by the German Patent Office will give a lot more insight into how the system should work. As it turns out, Honda wants to add a ton of driver aids to its two-wheeled vehicles — and probably not just the Gold Wing.
For the avoidance of doubt, the patent drawings in these applications use a Gold Wing as an example vehicle. However, the language further down in each application clearly states that while their example vehicle has a large fairing behind which the control unit (and other integral parts of the system, which we’ll get to in a moment), it could also have been used for scooters, electric bicycles, or other boarding vehicles on two wheels.
As the applications describe, Honda’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ARAS) integrates a number of technologies (existing engine sensors, camera, radar and LIDAR) to perform a number of assistive functions. There is, of course, the much-discussed radar adaptive cruise control. There is also blind spot detection, which often goes hand in hand with many implementations of adaptive cruise control with radar.
In Honda’s way of thinking, an automatic driving and/or steering system (which is already indicated by the radar’s adaptive cruise control) could also include a lane-keeping assistant system, as well as something called “tumble suppression assist torque.” †
wait what? According to the details of that latter function, the controller would use available IMU sensor data to determine whether a vehicle’s leaning movement is intentional, such as when a rider shifts their weight to steer through a bend. If it determines that the vehicle is actually falling, rather than intentionally leaning, the system will stabilize the bike and keep it upright.
Now, of course, we can’t help but wonder if one of the… the research Honda has clearly done with its self-balancing engines has found its way into these patents. We may never know for sure, but the obvious advancement of Honda’s self-balancing technology certainly gives weight to that theory.
However, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Honda also lists a collision mitigation braking system, three-stage lane departure warning and blind spot information system as parts of the overall ARAS array. The lane departure warning suggested here would use carefully calibrated vibrations (that don’t feel like those from the wheels or engine) to get the message across to the rider. The blind spot information system would use flags in the rider’s rear-view mirrors to warn them of potential hazards – something that has become more common in cycling lately.
Of course this is all part of it Honda’s company-wide plan to achieve zero fatalities by 2050, as the company boldly announced in late 2021. Along with Honda’s Sensing 360 and Safe and Sound technologies, these are just some of the ways Honda is trying to reduce the propensity for human error with technology. Will it work? We certainly can’t say at the moment, but we can say that it needs to hit the market and the inevitable kinks present in all first-generation technologies need to be ironed out first.