Honda’s Balancing Act

The car industry has been waffling on about self-driving cars for some time now.  So, I suppose it was inevitable that the motorcycle industry would jump on the bandwagon too.

Concept bikes are nothing new of course. How could we forget the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Suzuki "Crosscage", Kawasaki’s three-wheeled "J" Concept with GigaCell hybrid battery or BMW’s "Vision Next 100" (let’s see them write that on a tank badge)?

Apart from BMW claiming that it’s virtually crash proof and will therefore alleviate the need to wear a helmet, the bike also features a self-balancing system.

According to Honda’s R&D department, they’ve also been working on similar technology for some time but at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show went a step further by actually demoing a working model of their self-balancing motorcycle.

Video footage shows a test rider on a stationary bike, standing on the footpegs with hands outstretched while the bike’s onboard wizardry balances it. While another vid shows a riderless bike not only staying upright, but also moving forward, following a Honda technician like an obedient puppy.

This, says Honda, is a system called ‘Riding Assist,’ which uses computer operated compact electric motors to make thousands of undetectable adjustments to the steering angle every second. These keep the bike upright and moving forward. Moreover, when speed drops below 3mph, it takes over operation of the handlebars totally, allowing the computer to take complete control.

So, let me get this straight, here we have a motorcycle that can not only stay upright on its own, but can also move without a rider even being on-board! At first, I thought this opened up a discussion on whether or not Honda had taken this whole technology thing too far, distancing us from the very experience we find so attractive about motorcycling, taking life by the handlebars and pointing them in the direction we desire.

But in fact, what this does is open up a whole new genre of biking. Say for instance you and a few of your Honda Riding Assist buddies are planning a ride. You’re about to set off and it starts to rain. No problemo, strap a GoPro to the handlebars, send the bikes out on their own and watch the footage when they get back.

C’mon guys, let’s keep it real!

 

Read more about Honda's Riding Assist on world.honda.com

Image source: Barcroft Media

 

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