Self-driving cars are pretty cool, but they aren't always that impressive. After all, all they have to do is go, stop and steer, right? Ok, maybe it's a bit more complicated than that, but this BMW turns self-driving up to 11. It's a motorcycle that can go, steer, and stop all by itself. But it can do it with the need to balance on just two wheels.
The autonomous R1200GS is the result of a two-year project by BMW Motorrad engineers. The bike isn't ready for prime time just yet, but it is ready to do laps at the BMW test track.
It's strange to watch a riderless cycle, though if you've seen enough bike races it might not be that unusual. Unlike those unguided missiles, this one is actually steering, balancing, accelerating, and braking thanks to the computers, actuators, and attached sensors.
The goal isn't to have a riderless bike, not yet at least, it's to support riders in dangerous situations. Much the way lane guidance and emergency braking work in your car today, the aim is to help keep riders shiny side up in bad situations. Where distraction, talent, and hazards combine for a bad outcome.
The motorcycle can go, and it can come to a complete stop. It can't start off on its own just yet. It needs someone to hold it upright until it gets moving.
BMW says that the goal now is to refine the safety systems and get them onto a production bike. Full self-riding bikes on the street, though, "remain, of course, science fiction," says BMW.