Can collision-aversion make motorcycles safer?

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My motorcycle accident was a classic, the scenario you hear about in rider safety programs and read about on forums. I was cruising down a four-lane city street with no traffic in my direction but bumper-to-bumper gridlock in the oncoming lanes. At a dogleg in the road I rounded a corner to find a car from one of those oncoming lanes turning left over the double yellow into a gas station parking lot. 

It was textbook, something I realized even as it was happening. My motorcycle slammed into the front fender of the turning car and I came off the bike, landing on the sidewalk 15 feet away. If not for an airbag vest I wore religiously–an inflatable powered by a CO2 cartridge and clipped to the bike’s frame via a tether, which acts like a rip cord when rider and machine are parted–I’m convinced I might not be writing this.

It goes without saying that not riding a motorcycle is the best way to avoid motorcycle accidents, but the fact remains that motorcycles are incredibly popular around the world. In many non-U.S. cities throughout Asia and South America they’re a way of life, an inexpensive and efficient means of conveyance that’s essential to sustaining a livelihood.

So it’s about time that a bit of the massive investment in technology development to help cars operate safer migrates to their two-wheeled cousins. A good example of this migration comes courtesy of Ride Vision, a collision-aversion technology provider based in Israel, which is rolling out its AI-driven, safety-alert system technology to prevent motorcycle collisions on the road. The rollout comes on the heels of a $7M Series A, as well as a partnership with the automotive player Continental AG. 

“As motorcycle enthusiasts, we at Ride Vision are excited at the prospect of our international launch and our partnership with Continental,” Uri Lavi, CEO and Co-Founder of Ride Vision, says. “This moment is a major milestone, as we stride toward our dream of empowering bikers to feel truly safe while they enjoy the ride.”

First some grim stats. Motorcycles account for 28 percent of all fatal road accidents, and cost for some countries up to 4.1 percent of the domestic GDP, each year. During the pandemic, motorcycles sales are skyrocketing, rising as much as 30 percent on average across the EU during COVID-19. 

Ride Vision’s human-machine interface relies on image-recognition combined with AI technologies and predictive algorithms to help riders make critical life-saving decisions in real time. Mounted on the front and rear of the vehicle are cameras. Mirror-mounted alert indicators reminiscent of lane-change warnings couple with onboard computing to alert drivers about forward collision, proximity, blindspot, and dangerous overtake maneuvers. Ride info is recorded, allowing riders to access trip summaries that contain information like distances, alerts, and speed data. Ride Vision imagines emergency calling and more alerts will come with future updates.

“We are proud to be leading this investment round in Ride Vision,” says Jon Medved, OurCrowd CEO. “This company has both a cutting edge product for this huge underserved market, and the ability to save so many lives. It doesn’t get better than this.”

Ultimately, motorcycles will always be dangerous, but also rewarding and exhilarating for a certain kind of rider. For the time being, with two small children, I’ve hung up my riding boots. But I plan to get back in the saddle before too long. When I do, in addition to the airbag vest, I’ll be investing in advanced safety technologies.