By T Murrali
India is fast becoming one of the biggest two-wheeler markets in the world and this can be seen in their large variety in the market. Riding a two-wheeler makes it easier to manoeuvre traffic on Indian roads. The local and foreign two-wheeler companies bring their best products and features to India. The size of the market guarantees that every innovation will have takers. Understanding these facts well in advance, Bosch India had been working briskly to cater to this dynamic segment. Some of its brightest minds had been working on engineering performance and safety solutions for the Indian market that could compete with global standards.
In order to push endurance tests of these new technologies to the maximum possible extent, Bosch India recently organised the second edition of ‘The Spirit of the ride’ campaign, showcasing innovations and technology solutions pertaining to two-wheelers that was proved on the Polar Odyssey.
At an event organised by the company it displayed a bike fitted with Bosch technology that was used for the Polar Odyssey, a ride from Arctic to Antarctica. It covered four of the world’s most dangerous roads: the North Yungas Road, the Road of Death, the Atacama Desert Pan American Highway, and the Dempster Highway. The expedition had varying terrains to test its riders and their machines to the hilt. With such challenging roads and weather, all aspects of safety was taken into account, especially the motorbikes of choice and this was precisely one of the objectives for Bosch to participate in the event. The bikes chosen for this daunting ride, The Dominar, was driven by the Engine Management System (EMS) and the Anti-Lock Braking System handcrafted by Bosch.
Performance and ‘good mileage’ are the age-old standards by which a two-wheeler is judged. The challenge was to meet the traditional demands and also the new safety features that improve the riding experience. For this Bosch focused its efforts on three key areas in the two-wheeler market: stability during braking and acceleration; predictive safety with innovative surround-sensing; and connecting more effectively with its environment. During the development phase the company understood that by improving these three core areas, it could improve the two-wheeler riding experience in India and enhance the demand across market segments.
One life is lost every four minutes due to a road accident in India. Most of these involve two-wheelers. Some of them are owing to factors beyond the victims’ control. These include bad roads, erratic driving by others and improper functioning of the vehicle. In a bid to help solve this issue, Bosch has proactively started focusing on improving safety features on two-wheelers more prevalent in India. It has narrowed down two-wheeler safety to two key sections: effective braking and reliable engine performance, the most basic factors that every two-wheeler must have.
In order to provide these, the company has devised ABS (Antilock Braking System) that helps riders stay in control of their bikes when they have to suddenly apply brakes. The company’s two-channel ABS9 is smaller and lighter since it is specially designed for emerging markets. The ABS technology prevents the wheels from locking up and enables them to maintain tractive control with the ground so that the driver can retain steering control. Due to its universal nature that is suitable for all two-wheelers with hydraulic front and rear wheel brakes, it offers complete control in case of hard braking, even on slippery roads. ABS is going to become mandatory for all two-wheelers in India.
For the performance of the bikes, the company offers full-fledged technologies that cover aspects like fuel injection and supply, air management, ignition, sensors and EMS. Along with Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), it ensures that the two-wheelers in the country provide adequate safety for sudden braking over short distances. Powered by Bosch’s indigenously developed electronic control unit EPM44, the EMS includes components for fuel injection and supply, air management, ignition, exhaust gas treatment and engine control units. The technology used in the EMS delivers smooth and safe ride and enables to meet new emission regulations.
Other connected features such as rider assistance systems and E-Call (Emergency Call) are also offered. They help riders to be safe during their rides – a critical component of the two-wheeler segment in India and a key factor for determining their sales. According to Bosch, similar features in other countries, like Germany for instance, have reduced crash casualties by one-third. The impact in India can be higher, and the company is focusing several of its engineering initiatives on making such features more feasible in the Indian market.
Bosch And Polar Odyssey
Putting the technology to the test Bosch engaged with The Polar Odyssey – an Arctic to Antarctic ride covering about 51,000 km over 17 countries. Three riders were part of this mammoth journey on gruelling roads and in extreme weather, on bikes equipped with Bosch ABS and EMS. While the journey itself was a memorable one for the riders, for Bosch this was an ideal test of its safety features in extreme conditions.
Another added benefit of The Polar Odyssey was to educate riders about the merits of safe riding. This education first started at home, with the Bosch employees. One of its own employees, Avinash PS, was part of The Polar Odyssey team. The other two riders were Deepak Kamath and Deepak Gupta. The learning and feedback about Bosch ABS and EMS that they brought back from this journey is invaluable for Bosch to shape the future of two-wheeler safety in the country.
On this learning from The Polar Odyssey, Prabhu PM, Regional President, India, Powertrain Solutions – PC Segment, Two Wheelers & Power Sports, Bosch Limited, told AutoParts Asia, “We always believe in emission-free, accident-free and stress-free ride and that is something we wanted to put to test under extreme conditions. Polar Odyssey has gone through harsh environment conditions that one can ever imagine. This sends out a strong message that even under those conditions the two-wheeler is safe and performing well, and people should have no doubt about the reliability of the new systems and technology. There are a lot of learnings from this. But it is something we have to evaluate. At the moment I am happy that the objectives of these systems and components were served very well. It was almost zero-breakdown throughout the journey.”
The company worked on three key areas: stability during braking and acceleration; predictive safety with innovative surround-sensing; and connecting a two-wheeler more effectively with its environment. Asked how these initiatives helped in achieving zero accidents or eventualities, Prabhu said that by improving these three core areas, the company could improve the two-wheeler riding experience in the country and enhance the demand across market segments.
“Today we have only ABS in the market. We also have MSC that works like ESP in a four-wheeler, which will understand where is the torque coming from; there is ‘yaw rate sensor’ to evaluate how is the overall vehicle dynamics and accordingly adjust the braking and braking force on the wheels. That is how we were able to get this data in real time and could offer this safety feature to the Polar Odyssey riders.”
Predictive safety with innovative surround sensing consists of collision warning, blind spot detection, and also adaptive cruise control. For example, if the two-wheeler is behind a car, it can get locked on to the vehicle in front. So it would be like adaptive cruise control. In addition, there is forward collision warning and also blind spot detection that will help in case the vehicle is changing track. These are the features which will help the rider to anticipate things. They were not developed specifically for the Polar Odyssey, but were the general technology development that the company used to make, he said.
On connecting the two-wheeler more effectively with the environment he said, when they communicate with each other, vehicles can see much more than what the normal eye can see. With peer-to-peer communication it is possible to detect if there is a vehicle coming from the other side in sharp corners etc. It can then fore-warn about possible vehicles coming and these elements help the rider to anticipate things. Otherwise it is impossible for the rider to see what is aroud the corner. “We also have E-call, which in the unfortunate case of an accident, can detect and get help immediately. We had this technology but it was not incorporated in the vehicles that participated in the Odyssey,” he said.
The size of the Indian two-wheeler market is the key driver for Bosch to get into all these. The company is working on engineering performance and safety areas. On the future product development Prabhu said, “Right now it is BS-VI; I think, it will go beyond and we are preparing for that. In future, it could also be electrification. We are also working on how to electrify two-wheelers. We are the technology provider. We want to offer emission-free, stress-free, accident-free rides for the riders and we are continuously working on that. It depends on what the market demands. For four-wheelers we are working for the next level on emission: Euro-6 C and D or even future regulations. In case similar requirements are coming for two-wheelers, we can easily adapt. For the four-wheeler safety also many innovations are happening and we are looking at which of these we can adapt for two-wheelers. It is a continuous improvement programme.”