This self-riding machine will still, however, need the rider doing everything

Last year, BMW Motorrad showcased its Vision Next 100, a motorcycle that is an entirely radical concept of the traditional machine on two wheels today. It is a self-balancing motorcycle that makes the side stand become mundane and mute. It promises to enhance the stability of the motorcycle when on the move and also balances the bike when in stationery.

Now, the German chaps have made a motorcycle that starts its engine on its own, recognizes bends, accelerate and brake all on its own. After more than a couple of years of research, development and testing, graduate engineer Stefan Hans and his team revealed their autonomous BMW R 1200 GS at the BMW Motorrad Techday 2018.

BMW showcases its first autonomous motorcycle Exterior
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At the BMW Group testing ground in Miramas, in front of assembled journalists, BMW showcased its independently developed autonomous motorcycles as it drove off, accelerated, circled the winding test track and braked to a full stop all by itself. The bike was stocked with computers, GPS units and sensors in its panniers that took care of the various actuators for the throttle, brake, clutch and steering inputs including one for the automatic side stand.

But why do we need all this? This was also the first question my mind trickled onto when I heard of it. Turning my attention to BMW’s press release, we learn that this technology is being developed “as a platform for the development of future systems and functions to make motorcycling even safer, more comfortable and increase the riding pleasure.”

BMW showcases its first autonomous motorcycle Exterior
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BMW showcases its first autonomous motorcycle Exterior
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Meaning, BMW is not really interested in developing a fully autonomous motorcycle, because it just does not make real sense to have a rider just sit on a motorcycle that rides on its own. This GS prototype with all of its computing knowledge is being developed to help gain additional information on rider dynamics.

This new sets of information will help BMW develop new systems and technologies to detect dangerous situations early on and thus support the rider with appropriate safety actions, especially while turning at intersections or when braking suddenly.

BMW showcases its first autonomous motorcycle Exterior
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For example, a system that can detect another system on another autonomous vehicle coming out of a blind turn and provide the rider with pre-determined warnings to take necessary actions to avoid a collision. And in some cases, take over complete control to swerve the steering and apply the brakes automatically.

It is not just BMW that has some neat tech up its sleeve. The Japanese guys have also come up with their own versions of a semi or a fully automatic motorcycles, including an autonomous robot. Honda’s Riding Assist concept bike will follow its master wherever he goes, probably with an electric drive, and can also find a parking spot for itself, saving loads of time in your urban commuting. Then there is Yamaha’s Motobot, a robot that rides a motorcycle.

Honda's self balancing motorcycle concept will debut at this year's Tokyo Motor Show Exterior
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 Rossi shows the Yamaha Motobot who is boss. Exterior
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While no official announcements have been made regarding having the Riding Assist-e and its tech making onto the production line, it is looking increasingly likely that they eventually will. All we can do now is wait for the INTERMOT and the EICMA Motor Show for more insights on this amazing new technology that can possibly see its way into future products from BMW and make our future safer than ever before.


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