It sounds crazy, but jet thrusters on a motorbike may actually make it safer

When you hear the words “motorbike” and “jet thruster” together, your next thought probably isn’t, “Wow, that sure sounds like a recipe for safety.” In this case, however, you may well be wrong. Researchers at the German engineering and electronics company Bosch have developed jet thrusters for motorbikes which actually make the experience of riding a bike safer.

The technology is an effort to reduce what are referred to as “low-side” crashes. That is the type of crash which occurs when a bike is leaning to one side while cornering, with the result being either the front or rear wheel sliding out from under the driver. This can be the result of too much braking on the part of the driver, too much acceleration, or slippery road conditions, such as when you’re driving on wet roads or gravel surfaces. Whatever the cause, though, the results are rarely good.

It is these type of crashes Bosch wants to reduce. Their technology works out when wheel slip is happening and, where necessary, uses thrusters to right the bike before its impending doom.

jet thruster bosch motorbike rutschverhinderung
Bosch

“It’s like a magic hand that keeps the motorcycle on track and considerably reduces the risk of a fall,” Fevzi Yildirim, regional business unit leader for Bosch Two-Wheeler and Powersports, told Digital Trends. “A sensor detects sideways wheel slip. If a certain value is exceeded, gas is released from a gas accumulator of the type used in passenger-car airbags. The gas flows into the tank adapter and is vented in a certain direction through a nozzle. This reverse thrust keeps the motorcycle on track.”

The technology isn’t on the market yet, but it could help improve safety for motorcyclists who, compared with car drivers, are far more exposed and unprotected on the road, and therefore face greater risks. Hopefully, we’ll see technology such as this incorporated into future motorbikes, although Yildirim notes that it is still a research and development initiative.

“Sliding mitigation is an advanced research project aimed at overcoming differences in surface friction,” Yildirim said. “There are still a few open technical challenges to be solved. Nonetheless, it shows all our efforts to realize our vision of accident-free riding in the future. We have proved that such a system can work.”

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