Common Tread

Ducati: Radar-equipped motorcycles by 2020

Apr 18, 2018

As a part of their 2025 Safety Road Map, Ducati just announced their latest innovation: front- and rear-facing radar for motorcycles by 2020.

After tackling ABS cornering and D|air airbag integration (not yet in the United States), Ducati’s next safety project is “the implementation, in the short term, of ARAS (Advanced Rider Assistance Systems) on Ducati motorcycles. Advanced assistance systems increase rider safety levels via a number of sensors, including radars.” ARAS-equipped bikes use sensors to detect obstacles, warn the rider, and adjust throttle and brake inputs if necessary. If you’re hoping for a submarine-style display — sweeps, bleeps, creeps and all — sorry to disappoint. Believe it or not, Ducati’s got other, more practical ideas with ARAS.

If ARAS sounds familiar, that’s because Common Tread recently covered its automotive equivalent, ADAS. ARAS means similar aids, just for riders. In their recent announcement, Ducati lists adaptive cruise control (ACC) and collision warnings as two features future bikes could carry. In 2017, Ducati actually filed a patent for rear radar control algorithms after research on blind spots, conducted with Politecnico di Milano University. Forward-facing sensors will manage the ACC and front collision warnings. The earliest version we’ll get our hands on “will be available on one of the Ducati models coming in 2020.” No word from Bologna on what that model will be, but I’d bet on a flagship sports-tourer. Scramblers and radar don’t play well together, anyway.

The road map to 2025 will take Ducati through some difficult terrain. First, their ARAS setup needs to be perfect. Perfect. ACC in a car can surprise a driver, but automatic brake and throttle inputs on a motorcycle must engage without further endangering the rider, who has no margin for error if there's a mistake. Second, this tech is going to come at a price. Tech of this caliber takes time to reach entry- to mid-level bikes, so only a small number of well heeled early adopters will benefit from ARAS at first. Most importantly, Ducati’s ARAS efforts need to win acceptance from riders to be successful. Motorcyclists are at once concerned with their safety while also extremely wary of any technology that attempts to ride the motorcycle for them. But as cars get smarter (maybe) and drivers become less attentive, manufacturers will look to more advanced tech to keep bikes out of bumpers.