Ford Motor Company has filed a patent for a technology that could detect approaching lane-splitting motorcyclists, Roadshow has found, which could leverage externally-mounted sensors to help mitigate yet another hazard for drivers. “Lane splitting” refers to the act of progressing through traffic on a motorcycle, scooter, or other narrow, two-wheeled device by quite literally “splitting” the lanes, riding between stopped or slowed automobiles on either side. In the US, the practice is only legal in the state of California, but it’s embraced by plenty of other countries around the globe.
While perhaps good for traffic flow, lane splitting can be rather dangerous; it’s often hard enough to see another car coming up behind, let alone a motorcycle. To make detection easier, Ford’s patent application proposes a system that uses three rear-facing cameras and clever detection algorithms to sense when a lane-splitting commuter is approaching. It could be tied into the Ford’s other driver assist features – particularly Automatic Emergency Braking and automatic steering – to avoid a collision with the lane-splitter.
If we had to guess, we’d say the technology described by Ford’s patent application is quite near. Externally-mounted cameras have already grown dramatically in prevalence over the past few years, and Ford’s Pedestrian Detection technology – a component of its Pre-Collision Assist feature – could conceivably reworked to spot motorcyclists and other lane-splitters easily enough.
Of course, as always, just because Ford has filed a patent application for the technology does not mean that it will reach production. But we have a hunch it won’t be long now before we start seeing Ford’s equipped with “Lane-Splitter Detection” hit the road.