Motorcycles lack all of the safety mechanisms even cheap full-sized cars have, and no matter how safe they might drive, reckless fellow drivers are far more risky to them due to the lack of exterior shielding.
This week BMW Motorrad - the motorcycle division of the German vehicle company - showed a prototype driverless bike on a test track accelerating, navigating curves, and braking all on its own. It's alive! Say hello to BMW's latest creation: the robotic R 1200 GS.
What the company learns from the robot-controlled motorcycle will go into its safety and driving systems for its human-driven bikes. But that's not it. The motorcycle starts by itself, recognizes turns and even brakes by itself in hairy situations.
BMW's goal isn't to develop and sell autonomous motorcycles, though.
While the full extent of engineering that has gone into it is still unknown, the Bavarian bikemaker stated that the project was developed to help engineers in integrating some safety features with the rider's skill.
Although self-driving vehicle technology has the potential to save millions of lives on an annual basis (despite a handful of unfortunate incidents), it's arguably not the form of transportation that poses the biggest risks to riders. But from what we can guess, the prototype seems to be using a steering actuator motor, while throttle, clutch and gear inputs are handled via a sensor. Pushing its curiosity for motorcycle dynamics, the company created the self-riding R to help further its understanding of the motorcycle's behavior and how it could eventually receive rider-assist technologies. Until then, let us know your thoughts below.