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BMW, Honda and Yamaha have agreed to work together in developing vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology for motorcycles. The technology, known as Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS) uses signals sent between vehicles to warn riders of potential collisions at intersections, including oncoming vehicles that may not be visible.

The technology is like a more advanced form of real-time traffic alert technology currently offered on some GPS navigation systems. C-ITS relies on integrating information from information and communications technology as well as transportation infrastructure.

The three companies (along with automakers such as Ford, Daimler and Volkswagen) are already a part of the Car2Car Communication Consortium, an organization developing this technology for cars. Motorcycles present a different challenge and riders are more vulnerable in collisions, so BMW, Honda and Yamaha are forming a new group called the Connected Motorcycle Consortium to develop the technology specifically for motorcycles.

Honda has been working on intelligent transportation systems technology for a while now. This diagram was from a 2009 presentation on ITS.

Honda has been working on intelligent transportation systems technology for a while now. This diagram was from a 2009 presentation on ITS.

“Our companies are already active members of the Car2Car Communication Consortium, in which we work with car and truck makers and other stakeholders on common specifications and standards,” says Takaaki Kimura, chief general manager of technology center for Yamaha. “We came to realize that the specific requirements of motorcycles are beyond the scope of this consortium, however. The next logical step is to enter into a cooperation dedicated solely to the challenges relating to powered two-wheelers.”

The row of purple lights above the instrument cluster indicate the direction of a potential danger.

The row of purple lights above the instrument cluster indicate the direction of a potential danger.

The three companies are also members of the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) which has set a target date of 2020 for adopting C-ITS. This is a task that requires cooperation between multiple manufacturers and the Connected Motorcycle Consortium is inviting other OEMs to participate.

“Our aim is to promote a timely and comprehensive use of cooperative ITS systems in powered-two wheelers offering the potential to improve safety. We therefore encourage other companies to join us,” says Karl Viktor Schaller, executive vice president development for BMW Motorrad.

One of the biggest hurdles motorcycle manufacturers face is figuring how to fit the necessary components into the limited space available on motorcycles, a challenge they’ve already had to overcome with systems such as ABS. Compared to C-ITS technology for cars, motorcycle components will have to be smaller and be more resistant to dust, weather and vibrations.

“In order to speed up more motorcycle-specific safety developments, we intend to cooperate to promote a successful implementation of C-ITS in motorcycles and scooters,” says Tetsuo Suzuki, operating officer at Honda.