The automotive industry is fascinated by the idea of self-driving cars and the convenience and safety benefits they will eventually provide. But what about motorcycles?
BMW has developed a self-riding motorcycle as it continues to test future safety features for its motorcycles. Part of the "ConnectedRide" program, the motorcycle starts its own engine, sets off, rides on its own without any assistance. It even handles turns and braking to a full stop, and it props itself up without spilling over. Consider it a step above Honda's Riding Assist Concept, which helps keep the motorcycle's balance at low speeds. The BMW research team behind the project developed the motorcycle with the goal of better understanding a rider's situation and helping the rider avoid obstacles.
The technology in development could one day help riders determine at an early stage if a situation will become dangerous and enable dynamic control programs to show the safest ways around those obstacles. Thus, we could see active safety features begin trickling into motorcycles, much like how they've become prevalent in mass-market cars. The bike could inform the driver, display warnings, or perhaps one day even intervene directly to keep the rider safe in a situation.
Specifically, the technology could prove very useful at intersections or during hard braking events. The researchers' end-game was never to actually develop a fully self-riding motorcycle, but it quickly became the best course of action.
Munich-based researchers have spent two years and hundreds of hours testing and developing the systems on display, making them the first company to test a German-made self-riding motorcycle. Now the company is aiming to further refine the technologies to install them in production bikes as safety systems. BMW promises it has no intention to take away riders' freedoms, but a safer motorcycle never sounds like a poor idea. Watch the testing for yourself in the video above, and know it's not a ghost aboard the bike; it's simply self-riding technology.