Why is the Safe Turn System a truly revolutionary self-cancelling turn-signal system?
A vast majority of motorcyclists would agree that misuse of turn-signals (leaving them switched on after completion of a turn) presents one of the greatest dangers for a rider and others on the road. We are often asked what is it that makes the STS stand out among all other currently available self-cancelling turn-signal systems on the market (either built-in by the manufacturer or available on the aftermarket)?
The simple answer would be: “Accuracy and reliability.” The system with integrated motion sensors collects 300 pieces of data on the state of the vehicle and its motion every second. The movement analysis of a motorcycle is somewhat more complex than that of a four-wheeled vehicle – as the motorcycle is based on two wheels, the dynamics of the ride are completely different. What is more, a motorcycle is affected in greater extent by the imperfections on the road and other external conditions – that is why the rider must continuously make small adjustments. During the system development we were able to take into account a great number of different motorcycles, different riders and, accordingly, different riding styles. All of the collected information was carefully analysed and implemented in final version through testing in the simulator as well as on the road.
Most of the currently available systems put zero focus on the actual ride and specific maneuvers – they are based on the assumptions that whatever the rider might be doing that involves the use of turn-signal will be completed in predetermined amount of time or distance. This kind of system are reliable in terms of always turning off the signal – however, they are not reliable in terms of adapting to a great variety of situations in which the rider might use the turn-signal. For example if one crossroad, where the rider made a turn, is instantly followed by another, where the rider has no intention of making a turn (which is often the case while riding in urban areas) a time or distance based system might not be able to do its job reliably. This leads to a situation where the rider is giving others the wrong impression of intending to make a turn – a car coming from a side road might cut-off the rider as he is led to believe that the rider is about to make the turn. Manufacturers such as BMW, Yamaha, Triumph and Ducati have been installing such systems on their vehicles.
A step forward was made by Harley-Davidson in terms of improving current self-cancelling turn-signal systems. According to their user guide the system uses a combination of time and vehicle speed to determine when the cancellation should occur (the higher the speed the longer the cancellation period). They even account for the change in direction or lean angle of the vehicle which enables them to accurately determine whether the maneuver was actually completed. Regardless, this system still lacks the capability to cover maneuvers such as lane changes and minor turns and the rider still has to be careful not to turn on the turn-signal too soon. Harley’s system is one of the most advanced systems available and this might be yet another reason why Harley riders are so loyal to the brand.
The biggest improvement of self-cancelling turn-signal systems was made by Honda – their top-of-the-line bikes now come with an integrated self-cancelling system based on timer combined with front/rear wheel speed comparison and inclination. Based on available information and user comments, the system is still somewhat unreliable due to early cancellation and trouble in roundabouts. However the mere fact that major manufacturers are starting to take notice of importance of such safety improvements and are trying to develop reliable solutions is a great sign regardless of the imperfections in their current solutions.
Another method of determining a completion of a maneuver has to be mentioned – a method based on gear change and acceleration. Both methods rely on the assumption that a rider will change gear/accelerate after a completed maneuver (this system is used on some of the bikes produced by Indian). This method is flawed mainly by the fact that not every maneuver is followed by gear change or acceleration – sometimes the rider is forced by external factors to brake after the maneuver.
In ABCS company we were able to meticulously analyse a great spectrum of maneuvers and come up with parameters that can reliably determine what kind of a maneuver is taking place and when it will be completed (a turn, change of lane, exit of a roundabout etc.). The data is collected and analysed in the central processing unit by an advanced algorithm on-the-go.
We believe that self-cancelling turn-signal system is a necessary element for improvement of overall safety of motorcyclists on the road. Accurate and reliable cancellation requires a complete understanding of vehicle motion during the ride – that is what have we set as our goal. We are convinced that manufacturers will continue to improve their systems and make them widely available in order to improve the safety of the riders. Only by way of trusting in the technology can we benefit the improvements in safety, reliability and comfort of the ride.