FINALLY! Euro NCAP autonomous vehicle test to include motorcycles

The Euro NCAP testing process for autonomous vehicles will now include motorcycles, as the body looks to improve rider safety

FINALLY! Euro NCAP autonomous vehicle test to include motorcycles

THE way autonomous vehicles are tested is to change in 2030, as the Euro NCAP safety test will now include vulnerable road users, including those riding motorcycles.

While it is hard to believe those riding motorbikes weren’t already considered during autonomous vehicle safety tests, it’s good to see that one of the world’s leading vehicle testing bodies is finally taking powered two-wheelers into account.

The news around the inclusion of motorcycle riders comes as Euro NCAP published its Vision 2030: a Safer Future for Mobility, outlining how it plans to improve road safety in the years to come. The changes mean that from 2030, crash avoidance testing for autonomous vehicles will begin to include pedestrians, cyclists, and for the first time, motorcycles and scooters. The scenarios employed by Euro NCAP during testing will also be changing, as it moves away from sterilised lab tests, and into a future when real-world environments and conditions are simulated.

One of the big talking points around autonomous vehicles is the debate as to whether the vehicle can ‘see’ a motorbike, something that has been called into question after a spate of fatalities involving cars using autonomous technology. Another update to the way autonomous vehicles are tested is a move to more realistic settings. The analysis will now take place in differing weather conditions – something that has been blamed for some incidents. A problem arises whereby in poor weather, fog and heavy rain, for instance, some camera-based systems fail to recognise smaller road users like motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Hopefully, this new testing method should help to highlight some of those flaws.

Does the new Euro NCAP autonomous vehicle testing go far enough?

While it is to be applauded that one of the biggest vehicle safety testing bodies is now taking bikes into account, we have to remember that the 5-star system it provides is a guide and nothing more. The Euro NCAP rating is provided to allow consumers and businesses to compare vehicles more easily and to help them identify the safest choice for their needs. It isn’t a framework for governments to follow, and a poor Euro NCAP result will not prevent a potentially unsafe vehicle from hitting the road – or potentially a motorcyclist.

It is also worth noting that vehicles with some level of autonomous control are already available in some regions and that this new testing method isn’t due to come into force for another eight years’ time. That means there could still be some owners out there who don’t have the full picture when it comes to how safe their vehicle is for other road users.

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Lead image from FEMA