Some experts say that autonomous driving technology could be safer than human drivers. However, after Uber’s fatal crash in March, others are saying that self-driving technology should aim lower. The motorcycle industry is taking up that invitation.
While most would be wary to give up the existential experience of riding to a completely self-driving motorcycle, integrated autonomous driving technology may be a different story. These three new developments change the game for motorcycle riding—improving a riders control, balance, awareness and overall safety.
Up until recently, there has been a mechanical link between the accelerator and throttle. However, “ride-by-wire,” also known as “drive by wire,” technology can make opening and closing the throttle an electronic mechanism, instead of a cable-driven one.
Rather than having a cable connect the gas pedal with the throttle, an electric signal is sent from the throttle to a computer. This signal queues an evaluation that takes into account how much engine power the rider wants in comparison with the current engine speed, what gear is selected and other factors. This allows the computer to modify the command before rotating the throttle shaft to the necessary angle. Electric throttles remove the rider’s direct one-to-one control over the engine. This can help decrease the likelihood that the bike stalls and loses control suddenly.
The Bosch motorcycle stability control (MSC) system uses a computer to monitor and correct for balancing issues a rider may become vulnerable to while braking, accelerating, riding straight or cornering. The system is able to detect loss of traction and correct it by automatically applying the disc and engine brakes to help the rider regain control. This safety feature can be very useful in road conditions that risk a loss of balance or traction, such as quick turns in a road or hazards on the road, like oil, cracks, sand, gravel or rocks.
Meanwhile, Yamaha has released a motorcycle with self-stabilizing technology, called the MOTOROiD. This bike is programmed with an algorithm that can calculate its center of gravity in real time to help riders maintain their balance.
An Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is a self-driving sensor system that can alert motorcycle riders to a possible chance of collision or balance instability. Ride Vision, an Israel-based startup, has introduced an ADAS that gives riders a 360° view of the motorcycle’s surroundings using front- and rearview cameras. Made to be built into older and future bikes, the increased visibility and corrective alerts that the device offers can help any rider integrate within an autonomous traffic environment.
There’s no stopping the future, but it is important to make sure our technological advancements don’t threaten public safety. These are just a few of the ways that some self-driving technology can help reduce the risk of motorcycle injuries.