Nobody understands this technology better than the developers.
Curious about BMW’s new active cruise control (ACC) system? Although BMW explained the system when it was unveiled in June, 2020, this episode of the Live Podcast goes into more detail, thanks to insight from the system’s designers.
Most motorists are familiar with cruise control systems. Standard cruise control holds your vehicle at a constant speed, without the driver/rider maintaining throttle input. Active cruise control systems are designed to do much the same thing. They hold a vehicle at a constant speed, but if they detect a slower vehicle ahead in the roadway, ACC systems will slow down to maintain a safe distance without requiring input from the driver/rider. Once the ACC sees the path is clear, it takes the vehicle back up to its previous cruising speed.
Cars have had active cruise control systems for years, taking some of the drudgery out of mindless bumper-to-bumper gridlock or freeway driving. Several motorcycle manufacturers are working on developing the technology, but BMW is the first to confirm ACC is coming to an upcoming model.
Obviously, putting active cruise control on a motorcycle has some challenges. Physically, there’s less space for buttons and switches, and the dynamics of a motorcycle (changing lane position, cornering) meant BMW’s designers couldn’t just take a car’s ACC system and slap it into a motorcycle. How'd BMW do it? Markus Hamm, Jonas Lichtenthaeler, and Alisa Gangkofer worked on the project for BMW, and in this podcast, they go over some of the challenges, as well as adaptive cruise control’s features and functions.
At this point, some riders are asking, why would anyone even want active cruise control? Isn't the man-machine meld a vital part of the motorcycling experience, and doesn’t an autonomous driving system take the fun out of riding? Gangkofer addresses that question early on. She says ACC is supposed to increase comfort, and reduce the effort of riding. Motorcycling isn’t all about the twisties; sometimes you have to travel long, straight highways or other boring roads. Active cruise control makes these sections less tiresome.
This podcast isn’t a dynamic presentation, but if you’re curious about this technology, it’s well worth a watch. Putting active cruise control on a motorcycle was a major technical challenge, and even if this isn’t a glitzy EICMA unveiling, this is a good way to learn about the potential of the new system.