BMW announced a new emergency call system that will give motorcyclists a quick way to get help in the case of an accident. The optional add-on, expected to hit the European market in 2017, can be manually activated or automatically triggered by a collision or fall, immediately sending a message to a BMW call center which can then contact emergency response personnel.
The BMW Intelligent Emergency Call system adds a small module on the right handlebar. The module includes a built-in speaker and microphone and a cover-protected emergency SOS button used for activating or cancelling a call. Communication is handled over cellular networks through A mobile phone network module installed on the motorcycle.
The technology is a natural evolution of BMW’s eCall system, first introduced on its cars in 1999. Similar technology will be required on all cars in Europe by 2018. According to BMW, a pan-European eCall trial conducted in 2011 found emergency services were able to arrive at accident scenes 40-50% faster when responding to vehicle-integrated call systems. The European commission overseeing the trial estimated the technology could save up to 2,500 lives per year, while saving 26 billion euros (US$30 billion).
The Intelligent Emergency Call system activates in three different scenarios, one manual and two automated. The manual option is pretty straightforward. Simply lift the module’s cover and press the red SOS button and the system will try to connect with BMW’s call center. Once the call is connected, an operator who speaks the user’s pre-selected native language will respond and try to help with the emergency.
The two automated scenarios trigger when lean angle and acceleration sensors detect an accident. If the sensor data suggests a serious accident occurred, the system immediately tries to connect to the call center. The operator will try to communicate with the rider and will summon emergency workers whether or not the rider is able to respond. For less serious accidents, like say, a low-speed collision, the automated call is delayed by 25 seconds, giving the rider the chance to cancel the call.
The sensors are calibrated to recognize non-emergency situations, such as if a stationary motorcycle tips over, and ignore normal shocks such as running over a pothole or when going off-road.
BMW’s Intelligent Emergency Call system will begin operating in Germany in 2017 before expanding to other European markets. There are no plans as yet to include other markets such as the U.S.