June 19, 2023 by Jörg Schindler
A steady development of technology has led to the creation of highly complex graphic displays as instrument clusters (ICs) in cars. This increasingly popular use of tech has also started to make waves in the motorcycle industry, with modern bikes incorporating graphic displays in place of the traditional mechanical gauges. With bike-specific demands rising, motorcycle manufacturers are facing new requirements and cost-sensitive considerations for the development and use of graphic displays. Let’s take a look at the current market conditions, the desired functionalities for motorcycle graphic displays, the challenges the industry is facing and the possible solutions.
Graphic displays enable software-defined vehicles, so the demand for graphic displays on motorcycles is rising. With technology permeating all aspects of everyday life, motorcycle users desire a modern and high-tech riding experience on motorbikes of all price ranges. Increasingly complex vehicles and growing functionality means riders need easy access to an increasing number of secondary information like settings or driving modes (this calls for a dynamic presentation of interchangeable content in a user-friendly way, considering environmental conditions like weather). There’s also a demand for a cluster-built-in visualization of user data available on the user’s mobile device — with features such as navigation, phone and music data.
The increasing number of electrically powered vehicles and bikes requires graphic displays to show specific functions (like state of charge, charge control, consumption and range) for electric vehicles. A conventional cluster with mechanical gauges is hopelessly outdated for these kinds of state-of-the-art bikes.
On the plus side, the use of graphic displays, renders some mechanical parts obsolete — this increases the reliability of the cluster and reduces the cost of production. Additionally, similar hardware for modern, graphic displays can be used for a wide variety of bike models — this further reduces production costs and provides the advantage of scaling effects. Furthermore, a software-based digital IC allows updates with bugfixes and new functionality even after the start of production.
Across the market, the IC of many different motorbikes — regardless of manufacturer — have roughly the same range of functions: Speedometer, odometer, RPM, range and fuel gauge, plus a system settings functionality of some sort. Operating the various human-machine interface (HMI) of ICs also requires more or less the same steps, even if manufacturers of different countries are considered. On the other hand, you can always tell which brand is behind a certain HMI: This is the secret of differentiation.
Whereas the functionality is similar for all manufacturers, each brand has a specific corporate design. The type of customer and their motorbike riding habits also call for a distinctive HMI — just-for-fun cruisers enjoy a different look-and-feel than speed enthusiasts. HMIs must meet the requirements of both motorbike variants and UI/UX expectations of the respective market, and they must support different display sizes/formats and presenting variants. So, building a reusable platform using identical software features is a logical step to saving time and money while maintaining high quality. This platform approach combines the reusable platform module, a hardware abstraction layer of some kind and an interchangeable HMI part.
Even with all the common functionality and variant-specific deviations in mind, creating a reusable software platform containing out-of-the-box implementations for rapid HMI development is quite a challenge. The mass market for motorbikes demands price-sensitive solutions for ICs: An IC-platform has to support various system-on-a-chip (SOC) variants — e.g., via a hardware abstraction layer (HAL). To avoid liability cases (in cases of personal injury) for the OEM, the presentation of functional-safety-relevant information — like the rendering of telltales — should be implemented in compliance with ISO 26262. Cyber threats are also an issue: Nowadays, you have to introduce robust cybersecurity measures in the design and implementation of software. Moreover, the platform has to offer some sort of extension mechanism (such as a plug-in technology) to allow OEMs to add specific requirements and functions.
The IC of a motorbike differs in many aspects from that of a car. Firstly, a motorbike offers less space for a display. Due to this limited space, information from the infotainment system (such as guidance, music and telephony) must be shown on the same small display as the motorcycle-specific data. Secondly, IC operation poses a challenge: While in motion, safe operation of the system is only possible via buttons on the handlebars. While stationary, touch screen can be operated, but they are difficult, as the driver usually wears thick gloves. Similarly, helmets can restrict visibility. Finally, while the IC is exposed to weather and light conditions, it must maintain display readability even in adverse conditions. All these aspects have to be considered when designing an IC for a motorbike.
Luxoft has strong expertise in cluster and tools development, including all aspects of safety-critical rendering. Based on our experience, we developed the two-wheeler platform: A comprehensive package with a UI/UX reference specification and a reference implementation. The package also includes function logic, a user interface and a development environment with a simulation framework and a test automation tool. The entry-level platform contains a dedicated feature set to be functional even on the smallest of hardware.
We offer this platform with an extensive function package that covers the entire range of functions for cluster development. Brand-specific HMI and functions can be integrated easily and a plug-in mechanism is available.
Whether you develop your own cluster solution from scratch or use our two-wheeler platform, talk to us about how to create a compelling graphic instrument cluster on your next motorbike.
Luxoft, a DXC Technology Company delivers digital advantage for software-defined organizations, leveraging domain knowledge and software engineering capabilities. We use our industry-specific expertise and extensive partnership network to engineer innovative products and services that generate value and shape the future of industries.
For more information, please visit luxoft.com