Why it matters: Now that the self-driving car industry has begun to mature, carmaker BMW is shifting its sights to one of the most dangerous forms of transportation out there – motorcycles. The company has developed its own self-driving bike, hoping to take the lessons it learns from the project to integrate driving assistance technology into its future motorcycles.
Although self-driving car technology has the potential to save millions of lives on an annual basis (despite a handful of unfortunate incidents), it’s arguably not the form of transportation that poses the biggest risks to riders.
Motorcyclists die at a far higher rate than individuals in a car, and it’s not hard to see why. Motorcycles lack all of the safety mechanisms even cheap full-sized cars have, and no matter how safe they might drive, reckless fellow drivers are far more dangerous to them due to the lack of exterior shielding.
However, even with these dangers in mind, thousands of bikers continue to hit the road on a daily basis. To make life a bit easier for them down the line, BMW has developed “ConnectedRide,” a form of self-driving motorcycle technology.
Based on the announcement video published by BMW, the tech seems pretty effective. Granted, the track the bike in question drives on in the clip is free of other vehicles, but it’s still an impressive achievement – it manages to turn, brake, and stop entirely unassisted.
BMW’s goal isn’t to develop and sell autonomous motorcycles, though. Rather, it wants to install “dynamic control programs” into its motorcycles that will show drivers the “best and safest” path around an obstacle, while also offering automatic braking, and other safety solutions to aid “inattentive” riders.
It’s not clear when BMW’s ConnectedRide tech will arrive, but it’s already been in development for around two years so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see BMW’s upcoming motorcycle line-ups launch with the feature built-in.