What does BMW’s self riding motorcycle mean to us?
Story: Donovan Fourie
BMW has joined the space race where motorcycles race along spaces without riders. Engineer Stefan Hans has been working on this project for more than three years with 100,000km of testing, with a lot of falling over we imagine. The result is a BMW R1200GS with panniers and top box filled with gadgets and gizmos that circulates the BMW test track in the south of France with no rider attached to it.
This means that BMW joins Yamaha in producing a robotically controlled motorcycle, except that where Yamaha makes use of their famous MotoBot, BMW’s bike just moves around with nothing apparent at the controls. It is, in every way, riderless.
In a similar fashion to the driverless cars that are coming, these riderless bikes have huge potential. Sadly, BMW says that they are not planning on building riderless motorcycles, and this exercise is purely to help them better understand the systems on a motorcycle for better safety features. This also makes sense given of Ducati’s announcing that their bikes will soon be released with radar that will detect danger before the rider and perhaps take action.
With Ducati’s radar and BMW’s automation, there’s no reason why a motorcycle can’t automatically swerve, brake or even accelerate when in danger.
Saying that, why can’t they just ride themselves? Unlike driverless cars, these bikes are not necessarily to cart the rider round while reading a newspaper, unless said rider is Mat Durrans, who has just stumbled out of the pub and can’t remember where he lives. No, they are more for carting the bike around without the rider.
This has huge possibilities, working as a sort of valet. The bike drops you, say, outside your work, you push a button and the bike buggers off to either go park or set itself comfortably back in the garage at home. This is especially handy for people that live in “first world” cities that are so advanced that you can’t park your bike neatly on the pavement near your work, but have to park it in special bike parking areas that are not only three kilometres from where you want to be, but are inevitably full.
With the push of a button, the bike will return also. More so, if you want to test ride a bike, you need fill-in a form online and the dealer sends the bike round to your house. You could maybe rent a bike, and it also delivers itself, like a motorcycle Uber.
It’s a bit like Amazon drones, but motorbikes.
I really hope they do this.