There can be no doubt that riding a motorcycle can be a thrilling experience. However, with speed also comes risk. That unfortunately is the problem of riding on only two wheels. Accidents do happen, and because of the nature of motorcycles these accidents can be especially nasty. Of course motorcycle leathers can offer some protection to the rider. However, the key to surviving any high speed bike crash lies in protecting and cushioning impacts to the upper torso and neck. Engineers and scientists believed that the solution to the problem lay in using the type of airbag technology found in cars: unfortunately, the cost, bulk and the practicality of incorporating airbag technology into motorcycle clothing presented their own set of problems.
2D were called upon to provide a small, lightweight, standalone datalogger/ sensor package capable of detecting the conditions for a crash, in order to trigger the airbags. 3 accelerometers and 6 angular rate sensors can detect even the most subtle of movements; combined with complex algorithms, the sensors can recognise the difference between a rider tucking the front, and snapping into a highside.
This is not the first time that 2D have adapted a system for use on the athlete, rather than the machine… using strain gauges reveals just how much force a pair of skis are subjected to during a jump, and GPS/ accelerometer technology on horses can quickly diagnose any problems (e.g. overloading one particular leg, lameness). 2D have even stretched to football, with GPS technology aiding in tracking players and revealing tactics!
So how does the Dainese D-Air suit work?
The Dainese D-Air suit uses an Intelligent Protection System that combines an air bag system with highly-evolved micro processor technology to increase the overall level of protection available to motorcyclists. The Dainese D-Air Race suit system uses a GPS sensor to measure a rider’s speed combined with movement sensors which are built into the suit and which differentiate between a normal racing movement and a crash situation. These sensors can identify a high-side slide and the wearer tumbling across the track, which triggers the in-built airbags, and a low-side slide off the bike, which doesn’t. The bags are triggered and inflated within 45 milliseconds within the suit itself and deflate after five seconds or so, and therefore, all being well, the rider can get back on the bike and continue racing. It is currently the only airbag suit on the market that works wirelessly without any connection to a motorcycle.
The Dainese system comes as a result of over 10 years of research between the company, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Padova and the German 2D Company which specialises in data collection, processing and development software. It has been developed with the help of motorcycle racers like Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Marco Simoncelli and Leon Haslam, and is now extensively used in Moto GP.
Does the D-Air suit have other applications?
In addition to its safety features, the D-Air Racing suit also features data acquisition software developed by German company, 2D, which also supplies software to some of the top teams in MotoGP and F1, providing riders with an effective tool to monitor their riding performance. With this new data acquisition software, the suit is able to record telemetry data, which can then be downloaded and displayed on a computer. Its functions include recording lap time data, assessment of braking spaces and lines through bends. Acceleration data is also available and the system is compatible with Google Earth, which enables plotting of racing lines on a mini map.
The company is also planning to bring out a street version of its racing suit in the next few months. The D-Air Street shares many of the features of the Racing suit, but has been specifically designed for street use, as the name implies. The D-Air Street has a sensor on the bike which is linked to the front wheel and recognises if the bike is involved in a collision or if it starts to slide.