Achtung! The mad scientists at BMW have built an autonomous motorcycle, sort of.
In the past few months, we’ve seen different manufacturers working on motorcycles with some sort of of autonomous technology. Honda has its self-balancing Riding Assist-E electric bike. Kawasaki is working on some sort of “smart bike” technology that gauges the rider’s emotions and delivers responding feedback. BMW announced its own Next 100 concept bike, packed with safety tech. Yamaha has been working on Motobot, a bike-riding robot that still isn’t fast enough to beat Valentino Rossi, but is catching up quickly …
Motobot is a pretty good analogy for this whole scene, as it’s gaining steam quickly, and this BMW self-balancing R1200GS is a very good example. There are still kinks to be worked out; the bike can’t balance itself from the start, and a technician has to help it get rolling. But once it’s moving, it can handle itself, recognizing turns before they come, accelerating on its own, and stopping.
Why bother with this sort of tech? BMW is busy working on safety tech that connects vehicles together to prevent collisions, and to recognize dangers in the roadway. This riderless motorcycle allows them to play with data and sensors without the inconsistencies of a human rider, and also allows them to figure out how to effectively control the bike in cases where safety systems must protect the rider from imminent danger.