BMW’s autonomous R 1200 GS motorcycle is a safety equipment testbed

Cornelia Mascio
Settembre 14, 2018

In a recent media preview at the BMW Motorrad Techday 2018 in Miramas, France, an autonomous motorcycle, a BMW R 1200 GS, was put through the paces. The bike can not self-start yet and needs someone to balance it and send it off its way. But from what we can guess, the prototype seems to be using a steering actuator motor, while throttle, clutch and gear inputs are handled via a sensor. There, the bike drove off, accelerated, drove through the winding test track and then came to a stop, entirely on its own.

Last year BMW revealed to the world the R1200RS ConnectedRide prototype; with a host of technologies including Vehicle to Vehicle Communication and a Differential Global Navigation Satellite System, it aimed to make riding a motorcycle safer, more connected and less risky.

"The prototype helps us to expand our knowledge about the vehicle's dynamics so that we can classify the rider's behavior and determine if a future situation will become risky or not", Stefan Hans, a Motorrad safety engineer, says in the video. The bike would become able to analyze whether a rider is at risk and, like in a vehicle, warn or intervene to avoid a crash. In this project, it was not our goal to develop a fully automated motorcycle.

The autonomous motorcycle prototype will be used to gather data to improve riding safety and comfort. Rather that the underlying technology should serve as a platform for development of future systems and functions to make motorcycling even safer, more comfortable and increase the riding pleasure. KTM and Ducati have already started showing off their radar-assisted adaptive cruise technology. The KTM system has also begun testing a bit of gentle automatic braking system.

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