Honda Is Developing AutoPilot (and Auto Steering) For Bikes

Honda patent show cruise control and auto-steering, but what does this mean for the freedom in riding?

Honda files patent application to the German Patent Office, where is unveils plans to use Radar-assisted cruise control, as recently, the new generation models of Ducati Multistrada V4 and BMW R1250RT announced similar systems. Although here Honda presents somewhat of the next level, where it plans to add steering control, throttle and break.

Honda motorcycles
Autopilot patent self-steering and adaptive cruise control. German Patent OfficeImage by CycleWorld

It is worth mentioning, that several of the more technology oriented electric motorcycle companies have taken this approach of radar assistance, but most of there took it to quite a different direction. Using the radar system for assistance, and not a hostile takeover.

The patent differentiates Honda team where most known companies teamed up with Bosch, with names like BMW, Ducati, KTM and Kawasaki. That results in similar systems for these brands, and perhaps a good advantage to Honda.

Honda motorcycles
Adaptive cruise control to allow lane changes around slower traffic. German Patent Office- Image by CycleWorld

Honda uses the radar systems to track vehicles ahead, using a front and rear camera and monitoring rider position. Both cameras are actively sending data to perform adaptive cruise control actions, including switching lanes, monitoring the traffic situations ahead, and using a computer to operate the brakes and throttles, and assist in emergency situations as well as use traction control and ABS to prevent collisions.

Similarly to the 4 wheel space, where autonomous driving is a booming selling point, promoted by both safety and comfort, this appears to open a new era where ride assistance will not end with just assistance but actual driving. A lot of technology allowing the rider to activate cruise and just watch the motorcycle drive itself…

Honda motorcycles
Electric motor on the headstock for steering intervention. German Patent OfficeImage by CycleWorld

Our Opinion:

First things first, I don’t see this reaching electric motorcycles soon. Some of these systems require additional (though small) electric motors, meaning more electric capacity, and also come with the cost of weight – the bigger factor here. That weight factor would limit their use in electric models as we already see manufacturers reducing systems and weight to gain more range.

In addition, take systems developed by Arc, Damon or even Mobileye. You don’t need to convince a rider not to crash, I would use any technology that can reduce risks of crashing. Arc offers a Jacket-Helmet combination for a super-sophisticated assistance system. Damon Motorcycles also use radar assistance, with hepatic handlebars, and Mobileye is a great forward collision warning technology, so do I really want a computer to turn for me? Personally, I don’t.

What Honda is cooking up sounds like a Tesla autopilot, and to be honest, that sounds like taking a big part of the freedom in riding. In a 4 wheeler, you want safety and comfort, but when you ride 2 wheels the excitement is a great big part of that choice.

Source: CycleWorld

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