Honda’s taking tech from the world of cars and putting it into its bikes. For those of you that don’t know, lane-keep assist is an electronic nanny that keeps you tracking straight down the highway through the use of cameras and radar sensors that “see” the lines on the road. The system then adds the corresponding input to bring the vehicle back into line.
Big H is not the only brand that’s been working on semi-autonomous tech. Radars on bikes are not new thanks to Ducati fitting a system onto its Multistrada in recent memory. Now, even Yamaha's getting in on it testing a Tracer. While Ducati is reserving that feature for its biggest of bikes meant for the longest of rides, Honda, on the other hand, seems to have used a sportbike for its patent image, suggesting that the system could be on offer for bikes that aren’t long-distance tourers.
Honda engineers have put an emphasis on the system’s subtlety when met with conflicting inputs from the rider, as Cycleworld puts it in their report on the new patent, the system can be put on just about any motorcycle, and can act as a catalyst for future innovations for two-wheelers.
Similar to a steering damper, the system will be installed on the triple clamp of the bike, with an actuator in place of a damper rod. The system is compact enough and looks like it could be adapted to a bunch of motorcycles in the Honda range. Pretty much any Honda motorcycle with a triple clamp can get this feature given that there is enough space to fit a camera and a radar as per the system’s requirements.
The steering actuator itself isn’t just a motor, but it uses a magnetostrictive torque sensor to measure the input on the bars. This allows the motor to recognize whether steering input is being made by bumps on the road, or by the rider, both intentional and unintentional.
Corrections to the bike’s trajectory will be made given some set criteria. First, the camera must notice that the bike is drifting from the lane and then affirms that there is no input on the bars. Following that, the system will countersteer the bike back into the lane. While that may sound intense, the system is designed to be unnoticeable and will disengage once the bike is back in the lane. This steering system is also tied to the inertial measurement unit (IMU) which can be found on a lot of high-end motorcycles.
Just like the electronic throttle, this system could open up more advanced technologies for motorcycles such as power steering, which is another feature that this system can accommodate. Because there is a radar in the system, it’s likely that adaptive cruise control will also be an accompanying feature with the LKAS. As always, however, human input will come first.