The Rise of Autonomous Motorcycle Riding

While self-driving cars have made headlines, their technology promises to revolutionize motorcycle riding as well. BMW has already developed an automated system which enables bikes to steer, accelerate and brake themselves – something other companies such as Harley-Davidson still cannot achieve.

Honda recently filed for a patent on similar technology for motorcycles. Their goal is to reduce human error as one cause of car-motorcycle accidents.

How it Works

As car makers have developed driverless cars that are becoming increasingly popular, motorcyclists are also searching for ways to automate their bikes in order to make riding more enjoyable while decreasing some of the risks involved with riding.

But unlike drivers of traditional vehicles, who may take their eyes off the road briefly to check their phone or switch stations on the radio station, autonomous motorcycles only focus on safe driving reducing accident risks significantly on our roads.

Yamaha recently unveiled an early prototype of their autonomous bike called Motobot. The humanoid robot looks straight out of George Lucas’ 1971 dystopia film THX 1138! Yamaha hopes Motobot will help improve the performance of their own motorcycles as well as serve as an invaluable training tool for autonomous cars learning how to interact with motorcycles; for instance, by matching speeds with one and learning when and how to stop when in front of one.


Similar to how self-driving cars have generated considerable debate and opposition, the concept of an autonomous motorcycle has caused both doubt and debate. But unlike with cars where you are protected by nearly two tons of steel impact-absorbing panels, you are exposed to elements and other road users when riding your motorbike.

That is why BMW has prioritized technology that enhances rider safety. For instance, its Hypersport motorcycle employs GPS, solid-state gyroscopes and accelerometers to track its location relative to other vehicles and objects; 4G wireless transmission of this data enables Damon’s servers to refine his system further.

These details can also be shared among riders on the road, acting as virtual mirrors for one another. This should make it easier for drivers to spot bikes on the road and possibly help prevent collisions – although it won’t eliminate every potential risk from the road.


Most people envision autonomous vehicles with four wheels driving themselves through city streets; however, soon this technology may also be available on two wheels.

BMW Motorrad recently unveiled a video showing an autonomous motorcycle riding around an unattended test track, starting from a stop, leaning into turns, and breaking on its own.

Self-driving technology may be the only solution to encourage more riders to hit the roads, as car drivers pose a huge threat to cyclists 32% of accidents between cars and bikes involve one driver changing lanes suddenly in front of another cyclist, which puts both at risk.

Full automation for motorcycles would require extreme caution; sudden application of brakes could send riders careening off into traffic. Adopting ADAS features to motorcycles has proven difficult; however, Honda has demonstrated how they could be implemented using radar systems and self-balancing technologies to create an ADAS concept model.


Technology that promises to make self-driving cars more reliable may also enhance motorcycle riding experiences, helping combat sales losses that many manufacturers are currently grappling with.

Autonomous systems will also be useful to assist riders in avoiding common accidents. Motorcycle riders are killed at 28 times the rate of those driving cars and most fatal motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers turning left in front of a bike without seeing it or misjudging its speed.

Yamaha’s Motoroid concept bike incorporates several features to address this issue, such as facial recognition and gesture-recognition capabilities that allow it to only respond to its owner, and gesture recognition capabilities that let the machine understand beckoning waves or raised palms as instructions to move forward or stop moving. Although such features remain unintegrated with mechanical controls for now, they could eventually provide more intuitive ways of controlling your motorcycle.

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