BMW working on road surface sensing traction control for motorcycles

The BMW system shows a motorcycle that cameras to detect the road surface and adjust the traction control accordingly

BMW R 1250 RS

IF winglets are the battleground of manufacturers for 2020, could 2021 be the year that road surface-sensitive traction control becomes a thing? BMW seems to think so, as they have filed a patent for just such a system.

The new system uses an array of cameras mounted in the front fairing, mudguard, front forks. The system also uses acoustic sensors at the front and rear lower fairing of the machine of the bike. As the bike moves along the road, it constantly scans the road ahead. The camera feeds the information back to a control module that uses computer programs to build up a 3D image of the road ahead.

BMW R1250 R video review

BMW R1250 2019 Review

The system can then compare the images gained against a library of images stored within the machine, adjusting the traction control and ABS settings to suit. The acoustic sensors are a clever addition to the system. As anyone who has ridden a quiet motorcycle will know, moving from fresh tarmac to a rougher, concrete surface creates a big difference in the noise the tyres emit. If the BMW system can pick up on that and recognise what the surface material is, it could be a godsend, especially in wet weather.

With traction control and ABS becoming ever more advanced, especially in recent years with the advent of IMU lean-sensitive rider safety systems, it might seem like tech like this will be redundant. While in some circumstances that may be true, the extra eyes and ears on the road, especially in changeable weather conditions, could help to speed up the level of support offered by the bike.

I wonder if it can the system can pick up on potholes…?