Motorcyclists complain a lot about the weather—usually rain or cold, but heavy winds are unpleasant, and a genuine hazard. Experienced riders are usually able to manage extremely breezy conditions, but a violent gust of wind can scare an inexperienced motorcyclist, and push them across their lane into danger.
To solve this problem, Honda is working on a new “Wind Assist” safety feature that helps riders steer through heavy crosswinds.
This sort of thing would have been sci-fi only a couple of years ago, but it’s possible now due to the complex sensor arrays that Honda and other OEMs use to manage adaptive cruise control. With current adaptive cruise control systems, a system of radar sensors, an accelerometer and cameras all work together to maintain a constant cruising speed until a vehicle is detected in the lane ahead. Then, the adaptive cruise control system will maintain a constant following distance behind that vehicle, at the same speed.
With some software tweaks, and one important hardware change, Honda is able to repurpose this tech so that riders are gently guided back to their proper lane position when they’re blown around by the wind. The sensors determine when the rider’s in the wrong position, and a new steering actuator behind the steering stem guides the rider back where they belong.
In a write-up on Cycle World, Ben Purvis says this actuator is servo-actuated, and is designed along similar lines to a steering damper. However, instead of correcting herky-jerky steering input, this actuator will make its own steering changes.
Similar tech has been seen from other OEMs over the past few years, with BMW and Yamaha both showing off self-steering motorcycle technology. While many veteran riders are not happy about this idea, the manufacturers are certainly keen to explore possibilities.