BMW Developing Curious ‘Gimble’ Headlight

Gyroscopes are hardly innovative at this point, but they are particularly relevant to motorcycles, and BMW is looking to take advantage

BMW gimbal headlight

BMW is developing a new type of headlight holder for its motorcycles that would keep the light level during moments when the bike is not leant over.

If you’ve watched MotoGP since 2010, you’ve probably heard of a gyroscope, because Dorna - the MotoGP promoter - uses gyroscopes to keep its on-board cameras level during cornering. It means a viewer can see more clearly just how extreme 60 degrees of lean actually is.

BMW, which is apparently keener than ever to enter MotoGP (which could still mean it’s not very keen at all), is, according to a patent filing, working on a system which would utilise a gyroscopic gimbal at the front of the bike in order to keep the headlight level during moments of lean.

The idea is that, by keeping the headlight laterally level as the bike leans, it will offer more consistent lighting through a corner, therefore giving the rider better visibility, in turn increasing safety. In addition to keeping the camera level while leaning, BMW’s gimbal headlight would utilise two other axes. First, to keep the light stable in pitch moments, such as during braking or acceleration, and secondly to angle the light into the corner, like regular adaptive headlights. The innovation comes from the additional adaptivity of BMW’s system to deal with rotation that is either specific to, or more extreme in, motorcycles.

To have an idea of the lean angle the motorcycle is experiencing, the gimbal is plugged into the motorcycle’s inertial measurement unit (IMU), and the gimbal simply acts in opposition to the rotation values it’s fed by the IMU. 

Whether BMW’s innovation proves to be particularly transformative will only be known in time, requiring it to be put into some kind of production - and who knows when that will be?

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