Safety: Priority for 2Ws now | Autocar Professional

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Safety is becoming a critical element in the two-wheeler space and is now an emergent theme for two-wheelers in India. That’s the word coming in from Manohar Halahali, President, Bosch Two-Wheeler and Powersports, Bosch India. “In the past decade or so, the market has evolved. Right now, we see a different mix of users when I look at the market. So, the primary users, people who use it for urban city commute, are still in the majority who would want to own a two-wheeler. There is also an aspirational segment that is coming up, where people are seeing two wheelers as a lifestyle product, where they love riding, would like to go for weekend riding groups etc. This is a change that we have seen in the market, right from mid 2000s till now, and this is quite a significant change that any economy goes through, and this is where the genesis of all the technology that we bring in also starts,” Halahali explained. 

“The safety aspect around a two-wheeler which earlier used to be just a crash guard and a sari guard, and a simple braking system, now has graduated to having a combined braking system, anti-lock braking system and motorcycle stability control.” Halahali noted. So, safety is kind of an emergent theme and that is where our solutions like the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and the motorcycle stability control (SC) come into the picture, Halahali told Autocar Professional.

“From a perspective of what a market would need, it’s no more a homogeneous market where just a basic two-wheeler would do,” he added.  

Bosch has been working on ABS (Anti-lock braking system), especially for the two-wheeler market since 1984 and claims to have a legacy in terms of developing this technology from scratch, which has been adopted to suit the requirements of a two-wheeler.

“ABS and ESP (electronic stability program) are quite standard in a four-wheeler and we at Bosch also have that experience of working in that segment and we have pulled in all that experience to come up with what we now have as a tailored solution for the two-wheeler market. That’s where the OEMs start engaging with us. They understand that this is our proprietary strength,” Halahali said.

Earlier, OEMs used to primarily integrate elements such as carburetted engines or combined or drum braking systems themselves in-house. However, with the emergence of new technologies, OEMs are engaging with technology providers like Bosch for such tailored solutions.

“For instance, today when OEMs develop a 150cc motorcycle, they are exploring if the models can have advanced ABS, which is the motorcycle stability control, to enhance the safety aspects,” Halahali said.

As per the norms, now all two-wheelers with an engine displacement over 125cc need to have ABS while models with an engine displacement of 125cc or below, need combi-braking system (CBS).

“The emergence of these new technologies has also started this engagement, where we are seeing that it is no longer a component or a commodity discussion, but more a technology discussion. This is where we come in, because as Bosch, we have been working on ABS especially for the two-wheeler, since 1984. “We have a legacy in terms of developing this technology from scratch and then we have adapted this technology to suit the requirements of a two-wheeler. ABS and ESP is standard in a 4-wheeler, but we have pulled in all that experience to come up with what we now have as a tailored solution for the two-wheeler market, and that is where the OEMs start engaging with us. They understand that this is proprietary strength that a company like Bosch carries.” Based on data collected by Bosch, 1 in 3 accidents can be averted if ABS features are embedded. That was the number that came out, and with motorcycle stability control, we can push this by around 6-7%. So, around 40% accidents and fatalities can be avoided if the vehicle is equipped with the right technology.

Three step approach to safety

On being asked about safety, Halahali said that Bosch has a three-layered approach to providing safety solutions for two-wheelers. One is ABS, motorcycle stability control with lean angle functions, and traction control to a certain extent.

The second layer is predictive ways to prevent accidents through advanced rider assistance systems, with some kind of surround sensing. They offer
assisted features like side view assist, forward collision warning and emergency braking. These are assisted features that come with additional requirements. Let’s say we have to equip the bike with a mid-range radar, ultrasonic sensors, which will enable us to do step two, which is to predict the possibility of danger, warn the rider, avoid collisions etc.

The third layer is the ecosystem. This is the next big wave that we are looking at, which is to say how we can also connect the ecosystem. – vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity. “This means we can predict if there is a vehicle coming from the next corner and junction, forewarning the rider so that he can be prepared to navigate that circumstance,” Halahali said. In the Indian market, Bosch is largely offering the first layer of solution, while the second layer is developing now with OEM and consumer interest. The third layer is in the pre-development stage, as we need to understand the protocols of communication, and see the kind of capabilities we need to develop to have the third much larger canvas.

Advanced rider assistance systems in India likely by 2025-26

Unlike matured markets like Europe, Japan and the US, radar-based solutions or advanced rider assistance systems are not prevalent in two-wheelers in the Indian market. These solutions are coming in quite aggressively in matured markets and many OEMs like Ducati, BMW and Harely-Davidson have come out with these features.

Bosch has worked with some of the OEMs for these features in the global markets and is leveraging that experience to bring some advanced rider assistance features to the Indian environment. Bosh is in talks with the OEMs here now to start some programs that could come from model year 2025 or 2026.

The offering will be a niche application in the beginning, at the top end of the market. “India as a market has the advantage of volumes and scale. We are sure that once the market gets to understand this technology and see the benefits and the comfort associated with it, this will slowly trickle down to mid and the lower mid segment as well,” Halahali said.

Bosch’s offering in advanced rider assistance systems will be a combination of hardware and software. Hardware is generally a mid-range radar or an ultrasonic sensor. Halahali noted that Bosch has invested heavily in developing the software.

“Vehicular level safety is increasing at a tremendous pace. We are not behind any other developed country, be it 2- or 4-wheeler. India is one of the largest countries that has implemented the legislation of ABS greater than 125 cc. There are 16 million bikes sold in ASEAN. Apart from India, no other country in the ASEAN has the legislation, and this includes China,” he said.

On a two-wheeler, the software becomes extremely important as the signal of the radar is not always parallel to the ground because of tilting and lean angle. “The hardware is pretty standard. But the software and the functions that we develop and go with the hardware are something in which we have invested heavily. This enables us to tailor this software and features for the two-wheeler market,” Halahali concluded.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's May 15, 2024 issue.

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