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New Euro NCAP Vision 2030 includes motorcycles

New crash avoidance testing of automated cars will include motorcycles. Euro NCAP is also looking at ways to assess the safety of motorcycles.

In September 2022, we published an article about the very high Euro NCAP star rating for the Tesla model Y, while accidents with Tesla’s in the USA have showed that the Autopilot system is far from failproof, especially in bad-weather conditions. This led to several meetings with Euro NCAP, more about that later.

In the meantime, on 9 November 2022, Euro NCAP published its new Vision 2030: a Safer Future for Mobility. In this paper Euro NCAP describes on a high level how it sees future vehicle safety standards and testing. Euro NCAP plans, for example, to add testing and assessment of assisted and automated driver support systems, look at driver distraction, examine HMI (Human Machine Interaction) design, testing and assessment of safety functions enabled by V2V (vehicle to vehicle), V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) and V2X (vehicle to everything) communication, evaluation of fire risk and thermal runaway in electric vehicles. It also is setting its sights on new programmes that will assess the safety of motorcycles and other powered two wheelers as well as light and heavy goods vehicles, seeking to address the overrepresentation of these vehicles in road fatalities and serious injuries.

Motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers (PTWs) play an important role in the new vision. Let’s have a look at what the paper says about PTWs:

  1. Crash avoidance testing will expand including new scenarios with pedestrians, cyclists and, for the first time, powered two-wheelers.
  2. In active safety, tests will become less idealised, will simulate real traffic environments more closely and will take best practice in human machine interface design into account.
  3. Besides built-in car sensors, car safety will increasingly benefit from 4G/5G car-to-network communication as well as from direct car-to-car, car-to-VRU (vulnerable road user) and car-to-infrastructure communication. Euro NCAP intends to accommodate all forms of connectivity and the various technical communication standards in the rating by evaluating each safety function in a technological neutral way.
  4. The assessment will be broadened from motorway driving to other off-highway domains. This means expanding ACC requirements, including from 2024 testing of Car-to-Motorcycle (which is believed to be a significant milestone to ensuring PTW conspicuity) and longitudinal VRU scenarios, and incorporating the most recent advancements in Speed Assistance such as recognition of implicit, conditional, and dynamic speed limits, road features and local hazards.
  5. New crash opponents from passenger cars to pedestrian, cyclists, and powered-two-wheelers were added to the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) test suite. There is scope for further improvements along the same advancement principle. This might include, for example adding further turning cyclist scenarios; developing PTW test situations such as at a higher approach speed to cover more real-world cases and introducing micro mobility injury incidents.
  6. The above would not guarantee safety technology robustness in the real-world under all circumstances, as track tests continue to be carried out under very idealised conditions. For this reason, Euro NCAP will put a larger focus on the variation of test conditions, such as lighting and weather changes, target appearance, and interaction with other road objects and infrastructure. Some of these variations, such as changing the looks of the test target, could be relatively small but would have an immediate impact in the real-world.
  7. Other variations such as weather conditions, for example, rain, fog, low sun conditions, are meaningful and important from a real-world perspective, but are difficult to test in general, let alone repeatably and reproducibly. As a first step, evidence demonstrating reduced ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) functionality due to adverse weather will be investigated.
  8. Euro NCAP is already targeting motorcycle incidents by expanding crash avoidance testing to include PTW crash scenarios. It is planned to evolve these tests in the future, i.e., by increasing test speed, but also by introducing PTW scenarios to the commercial Van and Assisted Driving assessment.
  9. It has been suggested that Euro NCAP could also provide guidance for PTW riders by assessing safety systems such as anti-lock brake systems (now mandated), traction control systems, combined brake systems, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), corner anti-locking braking system (ABS) and other stability aids, and recommending those with the highest safety impact, starting with a test campaign. It could also highlight other needs, such as eCall for PTWs. This would mean not only testing cars with PTWs, but also testing PTWs and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Euro NCAP wants to make clear that accidents that have happened in the USA, as described in our earlier article, should not be linked to their tests, since the European type approval requirements are different from US homologation requirements. Also the driving circumstances are different, what leads to other (region dependent) decision making algorithms for active safety systems.

The vision paper concludes that including motorcycle safety is an appealing prospect but also a challenge. It means changing UN Regulation 78, possibly set up a programme of aftermarket testing for Personal Protection Equipment an increase of tests (in fact more than is possible).

We consider this as good news. The paper provides an answer to the concerns we have expressed earlier. Including more scenarios with PTWs in the tests, taking into account less than perfect weather circumstances, giving attention to Advanced Rider Assistance Systems (ARAS) and also looking at PPE would be a great step forward for motorcyclists’ safety. Already in 2023, a new test protocol will be used in which the needs of riders of powered two-wheelers will be taken into account: especially more test scenarios and the use of multiple sensors. The new grading system will be more demanding on sensors and will be bridging the gap to real world scenarios. A start will be made with the other issues like ARAS and PPE. FEMA has been invited to take part in these new developments.

Written by Dolf Willigers

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