Technology

Bell Helmets to introduce integrated cameras

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Bell Helmets and 360fly have joined forced to create a helmet with an integrated camera.

The helmet will use a 360fly camera system which captures everything around the rider in 4k video resolution to creates a video that can be viewed from an immersive virtual-reality perspective.

Thanks to a built-in GPS, altimeter/barometer, and accelerometer, the 360fly system is capable of overlaying telemetry data into its video, among a variety of other features. What really separates the unit from the rest though is what is in the pipeline from 360fly.

The company says that with its 360° it can soon bring new technologies to motorcyclists, most chiefly the ability to alert the rider of possible collisions from objects outside the rider’s field of view.

Why does this matter? This is hugely important – just think of the amount of riders you see with action cameras attached to their helmets, recording their ride to cover their arse. The issue with these cameras is what happens to them in the case of a spill; they often impact on the helmet itself and can cause all sorts of damage. Michael Schumacher was wearing an action camera in his skiing accident, and that penetrated his helmet causing serious injury.
If Bell can successfully integrate a camera without compromising the helmet’s integrity and protective qualities, then expect others to follow suit very quickly.

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Airbags – Dainese continues to challenge Alpinestars

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The row over airbag supremacy rumbles on as Dainese has issued a statement responding to an earlier statement issued by Alpinestars over legal action between the two powerhouses regarding the ownership of airbag technology.
Dainese has now released its own statement, which insists that legal action was taken in the German market – the Court of Munich ultimately granting an injunction on the sale of Tech-Air products in Germany – and that legal action is underway in Italy.
Here is the statement in full: With respect to Alpinestars’ “Statement regarding press coverage of Patent Challenge,” and for the sake of clarity, Dainese deems it necessary to reply to the following claim:
“In Germany, Dainese did make a direct request to certain retailers, that they cease and desist from offering for sale the Alpinestars Tech-Air Street system, however, no legal action has been taken against Alpinestars.”
In fact:
  • In October 2015, the Court of Munich released two autonomous preliminary injunctions against a German Alpinestars dealer, confirming that the Alpinestars Tech-Air system infringes two Dainese patents in Europe.
  • Dainese has also recently filed, before a German Court, an additional lawsuit against Alpinestars, seeking compensatory damages for infringement of Dainese’s patents and the halting of commercialization of the Tech-Air system in Germany.
In addition, Dainese would like to clarify that:
  • Dainese has never received a cease-and-desist letter from Alpinestars.
  • Dainese has filed a lawsuit against Alpinestars before an Italian court, seeking compensatory damages for infringement of Dainese’s patents, as well as an urgent preliminary injunction for halting the commercialization of the Tech-Air system in Italy.
  • Dainese’s patents have been released by the European Patent Office following a long verification procedure, and are therefore registered and fully valid.
At this time, Dainese will not comment further on the merit of those lawsuits, instead preferring to discuss them in the appropriate venues.
Advocating and delivering safety to people exposed to traumatic injuries in dynamic sports has been the mission of Dainese since Lino Dainese founded the company in 1972. From the very first day, Dainese has been the innovator for protection in active sports, with major industry firsts including the back protector for motorcycle riding, skiing, mountain biking and equestrian use, as well as the D-air® airbag system, which Mr. Dainese conceived in 1995.
  • Dainese owns 26 patents on the D-air technology and has made extensive investments in the research, invention, development, manufacture and marketing of the first and most innovative airbag-protection platform for motorcyclists: the D-air systems for racetrack and road use.
  • In 2015, D-air for racetrack use became an open platform, as D-air Armor was integrated into the products of other motorcycle-garment manufacturers, enabling more riders to take advantage of the safety provided by the Dainese D-air system.
  • The D-air platform has also been used to develop D-air Ski, an innovative airbag system for use in skiing, as well as airbag systems for use in the automotive field.
The lawsuit is huge for both companies, and the winner will effectively own a monopoly on airbag technology.

Technology – Yamaha releases online R1 dash simulator

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Yamaha’s sensational new YZF-R1 is heavily influenced by Rossi’s M1 and is rammed with technology taken from Yamaha’s involvement in MotoGP – the first ever six-axis Inertial Move,net Unit on a production bike, banking sensitive traction control, slide control, wheelie control, quickshifter, launch control, ABS and a unified braking system.

All that technology might seem like sensory overload, and if you’re worried how you’d cope in the saddle then Yamaha may now have the answer – the Factory has just launched a virtual simulator that allows you to practice setting up the electronics.

– Press and hold the right hand scroll wheel to select the main menus and then scroll and press to program your R1.

– The Mode and rocker buttons on the left bar allow you to modify your selections while riding without going back into the menus.

The simulator is available here: http://www.yamahamotorsports.com/sport/meter/yzf-r1_multi-function_meter_simulator/html/index_r1.html

2015 Year of the sportsbike: Japan fights back

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For years we’ve been told that sportsbikes are in terminal decline – sales dwindled as thousands of riders ditched their pocket rockets and switched to the ubiquitous adventure bikes and nakeds. The Japanese manufacturers noticed this trend and concentrated their efforts on tapping into this lucrative market, turning their back on sportsbike development and giving their flagships minimal upgrades. Honda’s CBRs, Yamaha’s Rs, and Suzuki’s venerable GSX-Rs received minor tweaks, the factories content that there was nothing to challenge their hegemony – they didn’t need to be cutting edge because there was nobody to challenge their dominance.

But nobody told the Europeans this, and bikes like Aprilia’s brutal RSV4, BMW’s brilliant S1000RR and Ducati’s focused 1199 Panigale caught the Japanese with their pants down – these cutting edge bikes featured the latest in electronic rider aids and in one foul swoop made the Japanese offerings seem technologically-retarded and outdated.

Kawasaki was the first to respond, creating the effective Kawasaki ZX-10R – traction control, switchable power modes, sports ABS and ABS, LED bar graph display – Yamaha and Suzuki gave their flagships fresh paint and Honda gave their Blade a blueprinted engine.

But this year sees the Japanese fightback. Kawasaki have already unleashed their H2R on an unsuspecting public – a 296bhp, 998cc supercharged inline four in a green trellis frame, wrapped in a carbon fibre fairing with winglets and featuring traction control, launch control and ABS. Yamaha are set to unveil their all-new R1 next week at the EICMA in Milan. The bike is expected to ditch the crossplane crank technology and return to a conventional firing order. It will be available in two versions – a racing version rumoured to make 230hp with a revised traction control system and electronic suspension, and a standard version.

However, the biggest news coming from Japan is that Honda are set to unveil the road-going version of their RC213V MotoGP bike at EICMA. This V4 will be produced for a Honda assault on the WSBK championships and will feature a host of technology from the prototype racer. Expect it to produce 200+bhp and feature state-of-the-art suspension and electronics but no seamless gearbox.

The sportsbike is dead. Long live the sportsbike.

The future’s here…why we’ll all be wearing airbags soon

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Airbag technology may be are prohibitively expensive at the moment, but it works, and once the cost comes down this is kit we’ll all be wearing. Airbag leather suits are a familiar site on our TV screens, with stars from the MotoGP and road racing world now wearing air suits – Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow can be seen putting the Alpinestars Tech Air suit through its paces while Valentino Rossi, Stefan Bradl, Pol Espargaro and Guy Martin all sport Dainese’s D-Air Racing system. The giveaway is the electronic monitoring LEDs flashing away on the left forearm and shoulder respectively.

And they seem to work too. Dainese claim that none of the 306 crashes by riders wearing the D-air Racing System between 2007 and 2013 have resulted in fractures to the collarbone and shoulder joint areas, which is remarkable when you consider the forces generated in high speed spills.

Alpinestars began work on airbag technology in 2001, and since then their suit has developed into a fully-electronic and wireless airbag system which offers comprehensive protection to large areas of the body – this season Marquez and Pedrosa are testing one-piece airbag systems that offer protection to the shoulders, full back, torso sides and hips.

This new system uses an airbag that is eight times greater in volume than its predecessor – it’s constructed using a special weaving technique which does away with stitched seams to secure the bag within the suit. As on the previous model, the system is operated by a micro-processor which is powered by an internal battery connected to an inflator module, and is housed in a special shockproof casing. The battery, which is housed in the suit’s aerodynamic hump, offers more than eight hours’ worth of protection in full ‘active’ and ‘armed’ mode, and will last for several weeks in standby mode, and is fully rechargeable.

SO HOW DOES IT WORK?

The Alpinestars system automatically arms itself as soon as the sensors detect the rider is seated on the bike and moving at low speed. Once the micro-processor is armed and sensing, it constantly monitors the rider’s movements and the forces experienced every two milliseconds, via sensors on the arms and legs. If the system senses the rider has lost control – if it detects any irregularities in rider movement or external forces acting on the rider – it deploys and releases a cold, pressurised, Nitrogen-based gas mix with a small pyrotechnic charge to fire the airbag from the shoulders, with the bag fully inflated within 50 milliseconds.

Once inflated the airbag offers more than five seconds’ worth of protection before it begins to deflate – the suit features specially engineered expansion chambers that accommodate the bag in its fully inflated state.

Once the bag is fully deflated, the suit returns to its normal state and fit and the airbag is armed again. It can be deployed twice before the gas needs replacing.

IN ACTION

Marc Marquez had the fastest MotoGP crash ever when he lost control of his Repsol Honda RC213V at 209.9mph during the Friday Free Practice 2 session at Mugello last year. Marquez bailed from his bike at some 170mph as he approached the San Donato corner to avoid the fast approaching wall. He escaped with a battered chin, a small fissure to his humorous bone and some soft tissue injuries to his shoulder, remarkable when you consider that both Marquez’s left and right shoulders maxed out the suit’s accelerometers as he rolled.

The data shows the crash lasted for 4.25 seconds, and it took the airbag’s micro-processor just 0.08 seconds to detect the crash, and another 0.05 seconds to deploy the airbag.

IS THE TECHNOLOGY RELIABLE?

Dainese claim their D-Air Racing system reduces energy transferred by impact by 85 per cent compared with traditional composite body armour. And thanks to their use of accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS, the micro-processor will only deploy the airbag when the needed  – it won’t deploy the airbag at speeds below 30mph or when the dynamics don’t require the extra protection of an airbag. It obviously works as crashtastic Stefan Bradl has yet to break his collarbone despite regularly crashing, and crashing hard.

SO, MUCH DOES THIS TECHNOLOGY COST?

At the moment, the Alpinestars Air tech suit costs £5400 while the Dainese D-Air costs £2400 and although the technology is expensive it will come down once manufacturers embrace the technology. Dainese have already teamed up with Ducati and BMW and the effects have been immediate – the Ducati Multistrada D-air is the world’s first motorcycle with a fully integrated airbag system.