Verge Motorcycles has already gained somewhat of a cult following, thanks to its highly futuristic styling, audacious electric performance and unique, minimalistic rear wheel motor set-up. But the company is on a mission to be known as more than the guys that make a bike that looks like it has been lifted from Tron.
Late last year, it announced new Starmatter software that powers a new high definition infotainment screen, which itself adorns the area where a fuel tank would usually reside. The Human Machine Interface is novel in itself (we will get onto that) but the company has taken things one step further at this year's CES by adding cameras and radars into the mix.
A total of six high definition cameras now adorn Verge’s TS Ultra model, covering the flanks, front and rear, while front and rear radars act as an early warning system for riders. Machine Learning and AI have also been employed to 'predict' the movements of other road users. Verge says it is the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to bring such features to the world of two wheels.
During a demonstration on the show floor, Verge's CEO Tuomo Lehtimäki revealed how activating the indicators would immediately bring up a live feed from the corresponding rear-view camera on a newly installed Starmatter Dash console, which sees a second screen added to the handlebar area.
In the case of traffic suddenly slowing ahead, or approaching fast from the rear, the system will warn the rider, acting as a "whisperer", according to Verge CTO Marko Lehtimäki. It acts like a second pair of eyes on the road.
Although packing the sort of technology that would allow for high levels of autonomous riding, this isn’t something Verge is pursuing. Tuomo Lehtimäki says it is not something customers particularly want, especially those piloting an electric motorcycle with 1200Nm of torque and super bike performance.
"Even things like auto emergency braking aren’t good when riding a motorcycle," he explains. "A rider needs to feel that they are always in control, so our system is there to assist rather than take over," he adds.
For now, the warnings come up on screen as visuals, but Tuomo hints that the company is looking at haptic alerts in the future.
Similarly, he also admits that the large, high definition display on the tank, which runs graphics from the Epic Games Unreal engine, is also perfectly placed to host things like mapping, navigation and other potential apps.
"This is something we are certainly considering," he says. "The Starmatter system allows for us to apply simple over the air updates, so this is all content we can offer the customer at a later date," he adds.
Currently, Verge has one showroom in Monaco, but it plans to open more in the coming months. As it stands, the Verge TS Ultra, as its now called, costs around €44,000 with all of its danger-sensing technology equipped. Anyone who has already put an order in for a TS will get the added tech.
However, Verge's CEO says the company is currently scaling up operations, investing in manufacturing and working on ways to bring the price of its tech offering down.