Motorcycles are looking more human

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Motorcycles are looking more human — for safety:

If you think the motorcycle approaching in the oncoming lane is glaring at you, you’re not paranoid — you’re seeing cutting-edge safety research in motion.

Honda Motor scientists studying the way the brain reacts to different imagery found that motorcycles that resemble a human face — especially an angry one evoked with diagonal headlights — are “significantly” more visible to other drivers. Measurements taken with functional magnetic resonance imaging confirm that a more lifelike front-end design “elicits a response similar to that when a human face is seen,” suggesting that other drivers will more quickly recognize the motorcycle’s presence and react accordingly.

Elements of this method of “conspicuity enhancement,” as researchers call it, can be seen in Honda’s ASV-3 motorcycle as well as newer sportbike models such as the 2008 CBR 1000RR, which features twin slanted headlights and an abbreviated nose.

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