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ADV NewsNew Ducati Multistrada Spy Shots Show Autonomous Tech Coming

New Ducati Multistrada Spy Shots Show Autonomous Tech Coming

 Ducati and KTM in close race to offer radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control.

Published on 09.09.2019

Whether you dig it or not, new autonomous technology is on the way for our bikes. As motorcyclists we can all appreciate the advances in AI for cars, especially assets like blind spot detection that might just save our hide. But how do we feel about it on our adventure bikes? Well, we’re about to discover its usefulness or lack of as KTM and Ducati fight to be the first to equip their 2020 Flagship adventure touring models with adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection. 

KTM previously showed the world how its radar-based system will work during a demonstration in Austria and recently the next-gen KTM 1290 Adventure R was spied during testing, featuring this technology. Now new spy photos obtained by MCN show that Ducati will apply similar technology to its forthcoming 1260 Multistrada GT, a top-shelf touring-spec’d version of the existing 1260 (it  appears it won’t premiere on the rumored V4 Multistrada).

Ducati Multistrada Adaptive Cruise Control
A rear radar helps modulate speed and distance by detecting surrounding rear traffic in addition to warning of vehicles in the blind spot.

Radio-wave based systems are the most common and so-far most reliable means of detecting and measuring the presence and speed of surrounding traffic, and certainly it’s radar technology we’ll see as this popular safety feature is adapted to motorcycles. It will require units mounted both front and rear on the bike, and as you can see in the photos of the crudely mounted devices Ducati isn’t giving up how they will integrate the mechanicals into the Multistrada aesthetic. Recent photos of the KTM on the other hand show a gaping hole in the Super Adventure R’s headlight module giving us a clear idea of the finished result.


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Many riders will question the advantage of having a computer pace us and possibly encourage complacency, but keep in mind the gaping technology is only cruise control activated and evidently can react faster than is humanly possible, not just in regulating gaps via engine speed, but by engaging initial braking in more abrupt variations. As with systems already common in autos, there will likely be custom gaps settings, traditionally “close, medium and long.” 

KTM 1290 Adventure R Adaptive Cruise Control
Recent spy shots of the next-gen KTM 1290 Adventure R show a large hole below the headlights where KTM is apparently fitting the Bosch-made adaptive cruise control.

Blind spot detection, typically evidenced by a warning light in the side mirror as well as an audible beep, is an easier sell to riders as a useful way to confirm an open lane on the highway. No matter how limber our necks, the standard head-turn check has its pitfalls, especially in dicey, fast-moving traffic. 

Certainly this isn’t the beginning of AI infiltrating the very machines we use to express our freedom from regulation and constraint, it’s just that most of us have gotten so used to the presence of assistance features like anti-lock braking, traction moderation and injection mapping that we would object if they weren’t included on expensive, new bikes. 

If Ducati’s previously announced “Safety Road Map 2025,” a complex plan to implement safety systems such as Cornering ABS and Advanced Rider Assistance Systems like radar cruise control is any example, more assistance features are just around the corner.

Ducati Multistrada radar cruise control
Front and Rear radars provide feedback on the surrounding environment – helping to prevent possible collisions with obstacles or other vehicles.

The good news about all of these computerized checks and balances, including aids like Shift Assist and DCT, is that the newer riders so valued by the manufacturers can enjoy a less intimidating learning curve. The only bad news perhaps, is the devaluation of actual skill. 

How do you feel about autonomous technology in relation to your adventure riding? Which elements are assets and which do you find unnecessary?

Photos: MCN and Ducati

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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