ORLANDO, Fla.—Nowadays, we are very familiar with autonomous cars that park themselves without your intervention, prevent accidents with automated braking systems and some don’t even need a driver at all. As far as we know — self-driving cars have an unfortunate track record of running red lights and causing fatal accidents, so one can be forgiven for worrying about the safety of a two-wheeled speed machine with no one behind the handlebars. Ideally, using a motorcycle that doesn't require a rider would eliminate potential risks to human life. But because fully autonomous vehicles can take years to build, test, and perfect, several manufacturers are testing autonomous-light versions, which leave the rider with some control.
But are you ready to take the back seat on your motorcycle? You may be wondering what, exactly, would a self-driving motorcycle do? Can an autonomous motorcycle handle the unpredictable behavior of some drivers? And then there is the perennial question of responsibility: Who is at fault if a self-driving bike crashes into another car? The driver, or the bike? How will insurance handle it?
Honda's Riding Assist-e motorcycle | (Courtesy Honda)
It would be designed to let the rider sit back and relax while the machine does the steering, braking, and turning. Manufacturers have actually been creating prototypes of self-driving motorcycles for years, and they're only just now beginning to share them with the public.
One example is Honda's Riding Assist-e which is a self-balancing bike, which means it can shift the center of gravity without a rider doing anything but it's not completely self-riding and isn't ready to take to a highway on its own yet. Yamaha on the other side has a proof-of-concept model, called the Motoroid, that uses artificial intelligence and self-balancing technology. A facial recognition system gives Motoroid the ability to respond only to its owner and it is also able to recognize gestures. Your bike would respond to hand movements, such as using a beckoning wave or a raised palm to instruct it to start or stop moving.
AMAZING, isn’t it? It surely sounds like the future is already here, but the Motoroid, is neither ready to be seen on the roads yet.
AB Dynamics and AutoRD released the Autonomous BMW C1 in 2017, calling it the world's first self-riding motorcycle. It comes with autonomous software, GPS, sensors, radio controls, and rebalancing technology, and it can drive without a rider. Here you can see it in action:
Interesting enough but what exactly is your expectation of a motorcycle ride? Many Harley Davidson owners say the joy of of the ride is exactly the driving, if artificial intelligence takes over that part of the experience what would be the motivation then?
Well manufacturers already know this and their automated toy would be targeted to people who don’t necessarily need the pleasure of the ride but instead use it for work. For example, security workers or police officers. The prototypes are already here and manufacturers are very active running tests until the right time comes and we all start seeing their work of art (as they see it) running around in the open road.
ENJOY LIFE RESPONSIBLY!