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Smart cruise control comes to motorcycles

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A self-driving motorcycle wouldn’t make much sense, but the industry is starting to adopt some safety technology from cars.

The first car with adaptive cruise control was the 1994 Mitsubishi Diamante. So why has it taken more than 25 years for the feature to appear on motorcycles? There were technical and ergonomic challenges, for starters, and some motorcyclists view it as a technological nanny or even an additional danger. The feature is now familiar to many car drivers, but it represents a quantum change in the advanced rider assistance systems available on bikes. For the first time, motorcycles now invite riders to turn both throttle control and braking over to an onboard computer.

In October, Ducati announced that its 2021 V4 S model would come with adaptive cruise control. A week later, BMW announced that the feature would be available on its coming R1250RT. Next spring, riders will be able to let these motorcycles:

  • Using data from a forward-facing radar sensor
  • Speed up and slow down on their own to match the flow of traffic.

The technology didn’t come easy to motorcycles. The hardware is a tricky fit on a handlebar, especially when buttons must be manipulated while wearing gloves. And adding even a few ounces to such high-performance machines is anathema to engineers and designers. Because riders are not securely belted in a position like car drivers, it’s important that they’re not thrown off balance when the motorcycle speeds up or slows down, especially if they’re already leaning into a corner.

Last but not least, many riders are philosophically opposed to ceding control; they enjoy the challenges and sensations of controlling their machine. Commuting by car is a chore for many drivers, so outsourcing a little control is welcome. But for motorcyclists, even riding in traffic is fun. Ducati is owned by Audi, and BMW sells more cars than motorcycles, so both companies tapped years of automotive experience. Both worked closely with Bosch, which already had a suitable radar sensor, developed for use on compact cars. The two motorcycle makers’ systems are functionally similar but not identical. The most obvious difference is that Ducati’s front-facing radar is paired with an additional rear-facing sensor that provides blind-spot detection. The hardware may be automotive, but the software is motorcycle-specific and took years to perfect.

“The physics of a motorbike are totally different,” said Reiner Fings, director of product development for BMW’s R series motorcycles. “The system must able to detect cars and other motorcycles while it is leaned over.”

That ability is only one of the differences. Many car systems work even in stop-and-go traffic, but because motorcycles don’t have automatic transmissions, they could stall or even fall over if the technology were allowed to bring them to a complete stop. So the Ducati and BMW systems are designed for use only at speeds above about 20 mph. Using buttons on the left-hand grip, riders can choose the desired speed (up to 100 mph) and the following distance. The system software then determines what vehicle, if any, it should follow. (If there’s no vehicle ahead, the motorcycle accelerates to the preset speed, as with normal cruise control.) One crucial engineering challenge was ensuring that when the cruise systems speed up or apply the brakes, it’s done smoothly and gradually — especially when the motorcycles are leaned over in a turn. This is a real concern in the marketplace. The popular Common Tread blog was one of the first to confirm that the new Ducati would come with adaptive cruise control. One reader commented, “Hell no. … I also drive a new Mercedes, and a few times, it has caught me off guard and slammed on the brakes! If that had happened on one of my motorcycles, don’t know what would have happened.” Both manufacturers’ systems slow down on their own if lean angles exceed certain thresholds. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the racing-obsessed Italians designed theirs to work at lean angles up to 50 degrees, at which point most riders would be dragging a knee.) So what happens if a vehicle the motorcycle is following suddenly slows down and the cruise system can’t maintain a safe following distance? The motorcycles will flash a “take over request” on the dash, and the rider must take over braking or take other action to avoid getting too close. These first motorcycle adaptive cruise control systems are not to be confused with Automatic Emergency Braking. This tech is already common in automobiles but years in the future for motorcycles. Davide Previtera, Ducati’s project manager for the development of the Multistrada V4S, emphasizes that adaptive cruise control

“is a convenience system, not a safety system; it is there to enhance comfort during highway travels.”

The radar systems only recognize vehicles traveling in the same lane and direction. They will not break or respond at all if you come across a vehicle that is stopped in your path. Although no US riders have experienced adaptive cruise control yet, they’ve already expressed plenty of skepticism. Another commenter on the Common Tread blog wrote,

“The main reason I ride is the challenge of riding on two wheels and arriving safely due to my own skills. … I like relying on my ability to shift, brake, corner, and accelerate on my own.”

That’s an opinion familiar to Fings at BMW. He said,

“They might say, ‘It’s too much electronics, too many things I don’t need for motorcycle riding.’”

He was a skeptic, too.

“I thought, I know how to cruise, I can open and close the throttle by myself. But once you understand how it works, that keeping a safe distance to the car in front no longer needs to be the main focus, you have more of your attention available for other things happening on the road around you. You can relax and have more fun.”

Ducati and BMW think that’s a concept American motorcyclists will get behind.

Mobile Devices

Samsung Galaxy S8 Leaked Photos, Rumors, Specs, New Features and Release Date

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Everyone has reasons to be excited about the different features of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8. It is expected that you would see a larger, dual-edged curved screen, an improved fingerprint scanner and other exciting new features to make the S8 a great smartphone to own. After the Samsung Galaxy S8 leaked pictures got viral, there is a buzz in the market about the specifications and Galaxy S8 rumors to be launched on 29th March, 2017. There are several speculations in the market that Samsung this time may go the Apple way and name it Galaxy S8 Plus and not Galaxy S8 Edge.

 

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Samsung would retain the standard dual edged curved screen, and the imperative differences would be the size, camera and battery capacity. Samsung will undoubtedly be vary with the S8 considering how the Galaxy Note 7 made all the headlines for the wrong reasons. The photos of Samsung Galaxy S8 was leaked by a twitter user with account name “Ice Universe”. The photos leaked displayed a larger phone with slimmer boundaries. A closer look at the leaked pictures helps to anticipate that the phone does not have any physical navigation Home or Back button. The photo indicated that there may be digital versions of the navigation buttons on the screen. Also the S8 would feature the latest USB Type-C connector instead of the familiar micro-USB port.

 

Source: Twitter @OnLeaks

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Source: Twitter @evleaks

 

Rumors have confirmed that Galaxy S8 would have a headphone jack unlike the iPhone 7, the latest offering by Apple. It has been confirmed by Samsung Mobile Chief Koh Dong-Jin that the new Samsung Galaxy S8 would not be unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) at Barcelona, 2017. They claimed the phone to be the fastest in the market as it is using the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chip. As Samsung is not going to unveil the phone, it makes it impossible for the rivals to launch their flagship phones at the event, as Samsung holds exclusive rights. No other phone can launch using the particular processor before Samsung Galaxy S8. Hence, Both LG and HTC can either use Snapdragon 821 or delay the launch of their respective devices later. On the software front, Samsung will most likely discard the Google Assistant and go with their own Bixby AI Assistant.

 

 

There is another rumor that Samsung would hold its own unpacked event to unveil the phone and then the phone would be on sale from 21st April, 2017. Several dates have been speculated by other reports such as 18 April, 21st April by The Guardian, 15th April by ET news, and 14th April by Forbes. We will just have to wait and watch for an official update from Samsung.

 

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