Adaptive Cruise—Safety Dream or Riding Nightmare?

Ducati plans to introduce adaptive cruise crontol

Interconnectivity is the dream for those who are proponents of the so-called “intelligent transportation system,” and European motorcycle maker Ducati is looking to foist that “dream” onto motorcycle riders, as it announced this past week that it will be introducing a front and rear radar system for its bikes. 

As part of its “Safety Road Map 2025” plan, Ducati is working with the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at the Politecnico di Milano University to build this radar-based supposed safety system that would detect vehicles in a motorcycle’s blind spot and then warn the riders of potential hazards, making for safer lane changes. 

As well, the system would be part of an adaptive cruise control that would automatically reduce cruise controlled speed when a motorcycle gets too close to traffic ahead. 

On the surface, this news would seem positive; after all, blind spot warnings are terrific, and adaptive cruise is a brilliant safety system for congested roads—at least for cars. For motorcycles, not so much, as the systems have the potential to make it harder for riders to respond on their own to an emergency riding situation where they might need to accelerate quickly or swerve. As well, this technology will push motorcycle prices even more out of reach of the average rider, and it will certainly add more electronic complexity to motorcycles that are already getting to be beyond the ability of most owners to self-service. 

Thankfully, no mention is made of any kind of automatic emergency braking system like you now commonly see in automobiles—again, great technology in cars, but something that could easily fling bikers head-first off the motorcycle or prevent them from making use of the machine’s superior maneuverability to avoid a crash altogether.