Car-to-Bike Connectivity: Is This Effective Technology to Avoid Accidents?

ADAS and car-to-bike connectivity testing at UTAC CERAM Millbrook
A study report by the MAIF Foundation in collaboration with UTAC CERAM Millbrook.

We know that on the roads, motorcycles are the most vulnerable; in most cases due to lack of visibility. The accident rate of motorised two-wheelers in France has reduced since 2019, but according to the latest assessment of the ONISR (National Interministerial Observatory of Road Safety), the figures remain high in view of the small percentage they represent among road users: 25% of deaths for only 2% of motorised two-wheelers.

What if one of the solutions to limit these road accidents lay in connectivity between vehicles? As part of its research programme, the MAIF Foundation decided to finance the UTAC CERAM Millbrook research project, the results of which have just been published. This research project highlights the potential of inter-vehicle connectivity to avoid accidents, particularly collisions between cars and motorbikes.

Connectivity for Road Users

The trend of "ever more connected", where data reigns, has not escaped the automotive sector, which is constantly developing and putting increasingly connected vehicles on the road. This technology is useful, not only for knowing the position and movements of its users, but above all for improving their safety on the road.

Although more and more vehicles are equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), it is difficult to transfer these to motorbikes. This is because of cost, stability and size. In addition, the detection range of their physical sensors (cameras and radars) remains limited. This is where connectivity comes into its own, as it increases the detection range around the vehicles independently of the external conditions.

Today, one of the main challenges in the development of connectivity, in particular cooperative intelligent transport systems, is V2X. This allow vehicles to send information to nearby road users. The main objective of car-bike connectivity is to enable vehicles to spot motorbikes to avoid hitting them.

"V2X has great potential in terms of road safety for motorcyclists. In particular, it has the capacity to perceive them in the traffic flow in order to inform the vehicles and let them react, as a priority, as they tend to be more stable on the road". Théo Charbonneau, Head of the ADAS-AD Major Project Activity at UTAC CERAM Millbrook

Connected Vehicles and Motorbikes = Less Danger?

The UTAC CERAM Millbrook teams have set up a connectivity device where, thanks to advanced inter-vehicular communication technology (V2X boxes), a visual and audible alert is sent to both drivers (cars and/or motorbikes) when a potential risk of collision is recorded. This probability calculation is based on the position, movement and speed of both users. In the first instance, the driver is simply warned of the risk situation and can react instinctively. In the second stage, if the driver fails to react, the vehicle will brake automatically.

The effectiveness of the system was tested in four accident scenarios, based on the most frequent real-life cases, involving a car and a motorbike at a junction.

Scenario 1: A car enters to turn, while a motorbike arrives in front, following a straight path. This scenario is a combination of low speeds for the car, 10 to 20 km/h, and higher speeds for the motorbike, 30 to 80 km/h.

Scenario 2: Similar to scenario 1, only the motorbike arrives from the left of the car, still following a straight trajectory. It covers 10 and 20 km/h for the car, against higher speeds for the motorbike: 30 to 80 km/h.

Scenario 3: Detection of the motorbike in the car's blind spot. The car is about to turn left, while the motorbike is coming at a higher speed behind it, like an overtaking, on its left. The speed range for the car is the same as in the previous scenario, while the motorbike's speed range is 20 to 80 km/h.

Scenario 4: Intersection where both the car and the motorbike are straight. The motorcycle comes from the right of the car. Its speed varies from 20 to 60 km/h, as opposed to 10 to 40 km/h for the car.

All these scenarios were carried out at the TEQMO proving ground in Linas-Montlhéry, which is dedicated to automated and connected vehicles. The results show that the system works well, respecting these conditions. The results of the study are convincing.

The V2X System, a Promising Technology but to be Refined

The study conducted by UTAC CERAM Millbrook shows that connectivity (V2X systems) could have a role to play in preventing road accidents involving motorised two-wheelers. However, some adjustments need to be made.

In these four cases, the conclusions attest to the system's responsiveness. A signal is sent to the driver, allowing them to react and avoid the collision. However, this warning is not always repeatable and is sometimes sent late - the reaction time offered, whether manual or automatic, is too short. In addition, the more precarious balance of a motorised two-wheeler should be considered when implementing an automatic action, to prevent the risk of falling.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the system depends on the number of users: the larger the community of users, the more effective it is, and also on its state of operation (obsolescence, generations, etc.). This means that these systems must be perfected and deployed to all road users.

Finally, the reliability of GPS is essential to perfectly locate users and calculate the potential risks of collision. It is therefore necessary to ensure the consistency of the performance of the positioning systems that users utilise.

"New on-board technologies are becoming more and more efficient and, in certain critical situations, make it possible to increase human capacities. This does not mean that all motorbike and four-wheeler drivers should not be vigilant and cautious, as technology is an aid, not a replacement." Jean-Marc Truffet, Project Manager for the MAIF Foundation

Conclusion

The study now shows that the technologies are ready and could be of real benefit to motorised two-wheeler users. Indeed, the four scenarios studied cover 35% of motorcyclists injured in an accident with a car and 27% of those are killed. However, there are still technical and strategic parameters to be taken into account and refined.

The car and motorcycle industries must come together around this connectivity technology to develop and improve the V2X system. Euro NCAP has planned by 2025, evaluation tests of V2X systems, either alone or combined with ADAS. In addition, UTAC CERAM Millbrook is continuing its research and development in V2X, notably through the SECUR project, launched in December 2020, with the help of the entire V2X ecosystem.