Autonomous Motorcycles May Share the Road Soon


A rider and his motorcycle on a wide road. / Photo by: Michal Vitek via Shutterstock


While autonomous technology among cars has faced challenges and skepticism, it does not stop the vision of developers to bring the tech to motorcycles. Certain firms like Yamaha have created concepts for self-driving motorcycles. 

Japanese motorcycle maker, Yamaha, announced the proof-of-concept MOTOROID, an experimental electric motorbike equipped with self-driving software. According to the company’s website, they plan to develop the electric bike using a personal mobility wherein the rider resonates harmoniously with the machine. 

To do that, they need to implement new experiences of Kando -- a Japanese word about simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement. So, the developers are targeting AMCES technology or the Active Mass Center Control System to control the chassis and optimize the behavior of the motorbike.  

Via AMCES, the bike’s attitude will be managed by specific rotating parts, such as the battery, the rear wheel, and the swingarm, which surround the axis of AMCES. When the vehicle rotates, the battery moves to either right or left and serves as a counterweight to maintain balance. In a way, the parts control the bike’s center of gravity. 

The components for controlling the bike are composed of a control unit, an inertial measurement unit, and the main actuator: 

1. The control unit controls and integrates the entire operation of the MOTOROID including the IMU and the AI system.  

2. The IMU senses the lean angle of the motorcycle using an accelerometer and a gyro sensor. 

3. The main actuator receives instruction from the control unit to rotate the parts of the AMCES axis, preventing balance loss. 

As mentioned, an AI system will be installed in the MOTOROID that serves as the facial recognition technology. The system responds to the owner only and recognizes gestures like hand movements, so the owner can tell it to stop or move by waving or raising a palm. For a more personal experience, a haptic human-machine will be included that functions as an interface for sending feedback to notify the users about certain events. 

The Yamaha’s self-driving motorcycle still remains a prototype, though, and may take several years before it can hit the road.