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Analysing motorcycle accidents on a KTM

Based on a KTM 1290 Super Adventure, scientists developed a new test motorcycle called MoProVe (Motorcycle Probe Vehicle). The bike is used to investigate and analyse motorcycle accidents.

FEMA reported about the new test bike earlier, but to know more about this project, we interviewed Peter Saleh from the Austrian Institute of Technology.

Motorcycle accidents are often difficult to analyse. To understand how accidents happen, researchers need a motorcycle that can measure everything that happens. The test bike is developed by the Vienna University and the Austrian Institute of Technology. Peter Saleh is one of the project coordinators, together with Professor Horst Ecker from the Vienna University of Technology (TU-Wien).

Peter Saleh from the Austrian Institute of Technology.
Peter Saleh from the Austrian Institute of Technology.

Peter, a graduated civil engineer and motorcyclist himself, has been working on road safety during his study, has gathered work experience at the Austrian Road Safety Board and has years of track experience. Since 2005 he has been working for the AIT, the Austrian Institute of Technology. With AIT he is working as a senior research engineer and thematic coordinator for road safety issues on the correlation of road infrastructure parameters (think of the road surface condition, road lay-out) with road safety.

One of Peters’ first projects within AIT was the relation between curve radii (the ‘width’ of the curve) and motorcycle accidents. It is part of his job to understand the circumstances of the road infrastructure that influence crashes: what is the specific influence of a specific curve, spot etcetera on the vehicle. To know this, you need to know the vehicle dynamics. After using test and measurement trucks for a long time, cars equipped with cameras and all kind of sensors, even bicycles with sensors, for AIT the missing link was a powered two wheeler (PTW).

Project partner Vienna University of Technology had long-term experience with a Honda CB500 to do research for example on the human reactions in braking manoeuvres, first ABS tests, etcetera. It was a logical step to combine the specific knowledge and experience of both institutes and equip a motorcycle with high-tech sensors and processors to study the human factors, that of the machine and that of the road and especially the interaction within that triangle. The first bike was a KTM SMR 990 Supermoto, which was not the ideal bike for this kind of work. KTM heard of the project and donated a KTM Super Adventure 1290.

It was a logical step to equip a motorcycle with high-tech sensors (click for a larger view)..
It was a logical step to equip a motorcycle with high-tech sensors (click for a larger view).

What is the MoProVe?
Peter Saleh: “The KTM Super Adventure has all the state of art technology on board. The sensors of this systems can also be used for the two additionally installed and independently operating measurement systems of the Motorcycle Probe Vehicle. These two added systems from 2D Debus und Diebold Messsysteme and from Racelogic cover more or less the same signals and therefore check each other and the on-board system of KTM itself. Despite all these installed technologies the bike is still street legal. All the systems are stored in the standard panniers and just some small sensors and some button in the cockpit show this is no standard bike. Despite the equipment it rides and looks just like a normal KTM Super Adventure.”

What do you measure?
“We start with the basics, which is the correct location of the vehicle (and the measured data) within centimetres. For this we use two GPS antennas and a DGPS station. For our measures and for the comparison of the data from the motorcycle with the data from the cars it is very important that all the data is collected on exactly the same spot. This is a project of its own. The input is one aspect, but to read the output and analyse this, to understand what the system is telling, is a different matter. We now have the CAN-Bus connected to the external boxes and next is calibrating the systems. Then we will measure the radii levels and sudden events, like unevenness or abrupt braking manoeuvres. Even with sudden changes the data should be reliable. When all this is ready we can not only establish the exact location, but also breaking forces, vibrations, skid resistance of the road surface, slip ratio of the tyres etcetera and compare that with other parameters, for example the data from the cars or the measurement trucks (road condition, road geometry), because we collected them on the same spot and with the same speed.”

How do you measure?
“When this is all done, we start with the first project: to know the circumstances of a few selected crashes. The roads where these happened will be pre-classified from green (safe) to red (dangerous). We are going to ride these roads with predetermined speeds to compare our measured data with that of the crashes and the specific routes. The main objective of this project is to establish what makes a specific spot or curve dangerous while it doesn’t look that way and is not signalled as dangerous. We also want to establish the correlation between driving style and risk.”

All the systems are stored in the standard panniers (click for a larger view).
All the systems are stored in the standard panniers (click for a larger view).

Why do you measure all this?
“The planning and design standards of the roads are mainly based on passenger cars dynamics. We want to know the difference in behaviour of the vehicles, the different trajectories between cars and motorcycles that are taken. The way we do this is by comparing the output of the motorcycle systems to that of the car systems. As far as I know we are the only ones that do this kind of comparisons. The outcomes we can also use to validate in-vehicle sensor systems. If systems are stable, we can start with optimizing external sensors for safety systems. In-vehicle data give the opportunity to control equipment like airbag jackets and to develop eCall systems. We already know that you cannot use one system for all kind of motorcycles: the differences between the kind of bikes, their characteristics, are too large.

Who is riding the bike?
“I ride it myself and so does Professor Horst Ecker of TU-Wien and members of his team. In total five people at the moment.”

Where do you ride it?
“We ride the motorcycle on the public roads. That is one of the advantages of it being street-legal despite all the equipment. Only high speed tests are planned on a track. These high speed tests are also important to test the fixings of the sensors to the bike. Vibrations can become really hard with high speeds and we already had to adjust some of them not to lose them. Testing motorcycles in road conditions is not as simple as it is with cars and also for our own safety we sometimes prefer the tracks.”

When can we expect some results?
“We expect to present the first results on the EVU conference in Bratislava in October 2016. EVU is the European Association for Accident Research and Analysis. Then we have the first concrete information based on specific tests. Later we will also have camera footage.”

Couldn’t the same results be achieved with computer simulations?
“No, certainly not. For computer models you need the data that we are collecting. Besides the existing motorcycle models on computer software are far away from real life dynamics, they are really not fully comparable to real tests. The only thing we can do with computer models is to extrapolate some effects of our own measurements to speeds that are too high for us to ride safely.”

Who will use the results?
“Primarily we use them ourselves, AIT and TU Wien put all the money (€60,000) in the project ourselves, next to the donation of the bike by KTM. All the equipment is already paid for, which means no investments for other parties who want to use MoProVe for their research. National research projects will start soon. If the European Commission wants to implement eCall for motorcycles the industry can use MoProVe to develop and test the necessary sensors for this. Like I said before, the demands to sensors on motorcycles vary much from those of cars, because of the different dynamics, the vibrations, and the whole vulnerability of sensors on motorcycles.“

Written by Dolf Willigers

Despite the equipment it rides and looks just like a normal KTM Super Adventure.