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Ducati Eager to OutBMW BMW With Radar Bikes

Italian manufacturer to give riders some radar love

Italian manufacturer Ducati announced this week that it plans to have a radar-equipped bike on the road by 2020.

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No, we don’t mean radar in the 1990s sense of “detectors” that were supposed to help you avoid cops (although, such a feature would make a heck of a lot of sense on a Ducati). Instead, it’s radar that serves as part of an ARAS: Advanced Rider Assistance System. Sensors, radars front and back, and various other bits of technowhizzbangery will be working to keep riders more alert to their surroundings, and thereby – hopefully – help to reduce collisions.

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BMW, of course, has also been working on similar systems designed to reduce accidents, with most of its efforts focusing on vehicle-to-vehicle communications – technology it’s been developing in conjunction with the car side of the business. Ducati’s tech appears to be more bike-focused, not necessarily relying on a V2V network to provide the rider with information about his or her surroundings.

Ducati says it started developing these systems back 2016, working with the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering of the Politecnico di Milano University. One of the primary developments has been a warning system based on a rear radar, able to identify and point out vehicles present in the bike’s blind spot, ie the space not visible in a bike’s side-view mirrors. Joke referencing the shaking mirrors on the Monster 1200 S goes here.

In 2017, the Italian manufacturer began work to develop a similar radar system for the front of the bike, to be used with an adaptive cruise control system. Having driven a car from Ducati’s parent company, Volkswagen, that was equipped with such a feature, I can’t tell you how excited I am by this.

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Adaptive cruise control allows you to set a chosen speed but will slow your vehicle to maintain safe following distance if another vehicle moves in front. If you live in Southern Britain or the US Northeast, you will be familiar with situations where traffic moves quickly but the road is never really so clear that you can just “set it and forget it.” Adaptive cruise control responds to the environment around you and makes long journeys on lightly congested roadways far more enjoyable. As someone who frequently makes the 150-mile M4 run from Cardiff to London, I can’t wait for this!

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Ducati says it is aiming to see all these systems, together with an advanced user interface designed to alert the rider to any existing dangers, available on at least one of its models by 2020. We reckon it’s a pretty good bet that model will be the Multistrada 1260.

The development of such a bike is a part of a wider Ducati strategy called “Safety Road Map 2025.” Other aspects of this road map have already been implemented and include cornering ABS, and the company’s working with Dainese to develop the D|air system.