Driverless technology has received no shortage of coverage in the past 18 months, whether it’s driverless cars, trucks or even yachts. A slightly more unlikely candidate for automation, however, is the motorcycle, but that hasn’t stopped a researcher from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne from giving it a go.
Eric Unnervik has created a miniature motorcycle that is capable of balancing itself. While it is, of course, very early days, his eventual goal is to produce something fit for production that can effectively drive itself. What’s more, he expects to be able to develop such a machine so that it can outperform the best human riders.
How He Did It
Much of the technology for autonomous motorbikes already exists, but this miniature prototype is nonetheless one of the first to put it all together.
As you can see from the video below, the machine is capable of traveling at up to 60kmh in a safe manner, despite having no human controller. Suffice to say, it is very early days, but automated motorcycling may not be that far off.
“Motorcycles fall as soon as they stop,” Unnervik says. “They must always maintain speed, and the only way to stabilize them is to use the steering angle, which is controlled by a servomotor.”
The brains behind the operation is provided by a small Raspberry Pi that’s equipped to the bike. It also has an array of sensors that calculate the speed and angle of the bike.
It can be operated via a smartphone courtesy of a Wi-Fi chip built into the bike, with the same connection used to provide it with a destination. The journey is then managed via the computer onboard.
Whilst there is still much to be done, the ultimate aim is to build a machine fit to outperform the best human riders.
“Our goal is that, in a race between an autonomous motorcycle and one ridden by a human, our machine wins,” Unnervik says.
Check out the video below and let me know your thoughts in the comments.