The first steps to autonomous motorcycles are already happening. At EPFL, micro engineering student Eric Unnervirk designed and built a miniature self-balancing motorcycle that can travel at speeds up to 60 km per hour (37 mph). The greatest challenge overcome in this project has been keeping the bike balanced throughout the ride. Currently, development is underway to allow the motorcycle to follow a pre-determined path, giving the mini motorcycle a greater degree of autonomy. Unnervirk’s goal is to one day race his autonomous motorcycle against a professional motorcycle rider.
New Motorcycle Safety Features From Autonomous Research
At first glance, the thought of a self-driving motorcycle seems ludicrous. The positive aspects of riding are the high mobility and the thrill of riding. How would an autonomous motorcycle know when to lane-split, adjust its balance to a bump in the road as the rider’s weight shifts suddenly or slide properly in the case of an accident? While many facets specific to motorcycle riding need to be worked out, the potential safety benefits available to the rider could be numerous.
Yamaha has built a robot that can ride a motorcycle and they are looking to use multiple features to enhance rider safety. Additional options to help stabilize yourself, warn you of other hazards and vehicles on the road, and assist you in braking to avoid a collision are some of the options that may be developed to help save riders’ lives. These features could be made available before autonomous motorcycles join the ranks of the autonomous vehicles. Just as we are many months and years away from autonomous vehicles dominating road traffic, we are even further from seeing self-riding motorcycles operating in the public domain. However, this should not deter us from using these features to save lives today.