CES 2020: Damon and BlackBerry QNX rev up for electric motorcycle release

CES 2020 attendees can "test drive" the Hypersport Pro superbike via virtual reality at BlackBerry's booth, where riders can see features including CoPilot and Shift in action.

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At CES 2020, Damon Motorcycles revealed its limited-edition superbike, the Hypersport Pro, equipped with its CoPilot advanced warning system powered by BlackBerry QNX technology. 

BlackBerry's real-time operating system will serve as the foundation for CoPilot, according to a press release on Friday. 

SEE: Special report: Tech and the future of transportation (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Conference attendees can try out the bike via a virtual reality (VR) station at BlackBerry's booth #7515, according to the release.  

The VR experience will use a rideable stationary motorcycle to simulate the motorcycle's features on the show floor. Riders can test the CoPilot advanced warning system, which uses radar, cameras, and non-visual sensors to track the direction, speed, and velocity of up to 64 moving objects around the motorcycle, Jay Giraud, chief executive officer of Damon Motorcycles.

CoPilot delivers forward collision warnings through haptic vibrations on the vehicle's grips. Blind spot alerts are also provided with amber LED lights to the left and right edges of the windscreen. Riders are alerted to rear collision threats via bright white LED light on the windscreen's edge, Giraud said

"When you look at the forensics of [motorcycle] accidents in North America, Europe and Asia, we overlapped all of the data to find that the common parallels. We saw that three-quarters of all motorcycle accidents occur in intersections, and two-thirds of the accidents are caused by drivers," Giraud said. "Even though non-motorcyclists like to blame motorcyclists for speed or being crazy, riders are pretty tame, well-behaved people. We're just not seen."

The number of motorcyclists killed in crashes has decreased slightly by 5% in the past couple years, but still totaled to nearly 5,000 deaths in 2018, according to the NHTSA. Advances in transportation technology, like the CoPilot warning system, aim to keep this death toll down. 

"We have 27x more motorcycle accidents and 5x more deaths on a motorcycle than we do cars," Giraud said. "We've seen safer helmets; we've seen airbag jackets; we've seen people wear bright green neon jacket, so you're more visible to the driver. None of that's really moves the needle at all. It doesn't matter. Drivers still hit the motorbike. We wanted to put the safety in the hands of the riders." 

With BlackBerry's system, "all of the processing and the real-time computation, decision making, and self healing function to reboot instantly in the event of any kind of computational error. The system works flawlessly and invisibly to the rider, so all they have to do is interpret that LED light or that feeling in the handlebars and they can make a very fast, intuitive, evasive decision if necessary," Giraud said. 

SEE: More CES 2020 coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Attendees can also use the virtual reality experience to test the bike's Shift feature, with allows riders to electronically adjust the motorcycle's riding position while in motion, Giraud added. 

"Your handlebars, they telescope up and down about four inches. Your foot pegs move about two and a half inches. Your seat moves up and down an inch and a half. And the windscreen of the superbike changes its angle," Giraud said. "Effectively, if you were to overlap the body positions of an upright bike, like the Ducati Monster, with the Yamaha R1, an aggressive superbike, our bike could move in and out of either."

At CES 2020, Damon Motorcycles will reveal two versions of the superbike: The Hypersport Premier and the Hypersport HS. The Premier bike is a limited edition, with only 25 bikes of that kind being produced. Each bike will have one-of-a-kind paint jobs, single-sided carbon fiber swing arms, and upgraded brakes and suspension, Giraud said. 

The Hypersport HS will be the mainstream version of the bike, with a regular swing arm and regular paint, Giraud added, but both versions of the Hypersport Pro will have CoPilot and Shift capabilities. 

The performance specs of the Hypersport bikes will be released at CES 2020, and prototypes will hit the roads in mid-2020, according to the release.

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