A new patent application lays out plans in detail.

Motorcycle manufacturers are always hard at work on what’s going to set them apart from their competition. Take, for example, Indian Motorcycle, which has been working on an adaptive lighting system that integrates input from a range of sensors located all over the bike. Your IMU, radar, lidar—get out your red string, your pushpins, and your corkboard, because it’s all connected and telling your headlights precisely how to illuminate the road ahead. 

Indian filed this incredibly detailed patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May, 2020, and it was officially published in October, 2020. While Indian chose a Roadmaster drawing to illustrate how this adaptive headlight system would function, it also states in the text that this system could be used on any number of other vehicles. Scooters, mopeds—or even watercraft or other vehicles, perhaps with an eye toward parent company Polaris’ other vehicular niches.  

Of course, the Roadmaster presents certain advantages in terms of potential sensor placement since there’s so much real estate to work with. That’s presumably also why Indian added clarifying language at just about every step, advising that sensor placement, shape, number, and type could be adapted to best fit an individual vehicle’s needs.

Indian Motorcycle Adaptive Lighting Patent - Sensor Overview
Indian Motorcycle Adaptive Lighting Patent - Speed Affects Light Beam Pattern

In any case, this particular system could take multiple types of data into account to illuminate your journey as optimally as possible. The patent outlines various diagrams to show how the lights could be programmed to react if given certain inputs from the sensors. Inputs including lean angle and vehicle speed, for example, could tell high and low beam elements and an array of adaptive elements located throughout the headlight housing how best to activate.  

Gallery: Indian Motorcycle Adaptive Lighting Patent Application

It’s an interesting idea, and one that could potentially be quite useful to riders, depending on how it’s implemented. If it lives up to its promise, riders might find it incredibly useful. It’s unclear when or if Indian currently has active plans for rollout of this technology on any of its bikes. It’s also way too early to speculate on whether such a system would only be fitted to new bikes, or could be offered as a retrofit kit for existing models. Could it potentially make riding bikes it’s fitted to a little safer and more inviting to ride at night? Time will tell.