Move over autonomous cars — BMW’s made a self-driving motorcycle

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We’ve seen a fair number of self-driving cars in our time but a self-driving motorcycle? That’s a new one, but it’s one that BMW has gone and created. BMW Motorrad has been working on an autonomous motorcycle for the past two years, a secretive project that has borne enough fruit for them to finally be able to show it off.

The result? A motorbike that can start itself up, take off, take corners, and then come to a stop better than some riders do. Actually seeing it in action, as is the case with the video below, is impressive in itself. It’s hardly surprising that the brains at BMW have managed to pull this off — we’ve seen bikes travel decent distances without their riders even without automating tech installed. At least BMW’s efforts are a lot less creepy than Yamaha’s robot rider.

The point isn’t to make a self-driving motorcycle, though. Even though that’s exactly what BMW has done here, they’ve got no plans to bring such a vehicle to market. What would be the point? This development has been in aid of developing more intelligent drivers assists, features which might help save motor cyclist’s lives in hairy situations. And if you’re on a bike, they’re all hairy situations.

The tricky part here is to create a system that will work in tandem with a human rider without actively harming them. Autonomous braking or swerving in a Volvo is a relatively easy task, as you can always have the car’s structure take the brunt of an impact if things go wrong. Automatically braking or swerving a bike when there’s a rider on top could easily end with the rider high-siding it or being dumped into what is now an ongoing traffic accident. BMW should get around these potential issues by offering what they call “active recommendations”, which will offer drivers early suggestions to avoid obstacles that might not be immediately apparent. That’s something we’d like to see in action.

Source: via The Verge

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