…and by not using gyroscopes prove that bikes are more stable than people think.
We’re all familiar with Segways by now. No, not those ridiculous footboards that kids all nagged at their mums and dads about a couple of years ago before they all started exploding, but the self-balancing, ‘future of transport’ that promised an entirely new world but somehow just ushered in a slightly more quirky set of ‘experience days’.
The Segway was revolutionary because it used a series of gyroscopes that kept their unit upright at all times, and other companies have investigated using similar technology in vehicles to varying degrees of success.
Not Honda though.
For their new Riding Assist technology announced at CES this week, Honda eschewed the familiar gyroscopic path citing that they are too heavy and cumbersome for inclusion into a regular, two-wheeled form factor. Instead the tech used comes out of their robotics division – the people responsible for Uni-Cub and Asimo – and have a combination of software and a third motor applied to the front forks doing all of the tricky work.
Steering at low speeds can now be controlled electronically, with the software and sensors picking up and relaying the adjustments required to a small motor making the minute, steering adjustments to the front forks, enabling the whole bike to stay balanced.
So in fact, our headline is entirely misleading – clickbait! – because rather than defy gravity, Honda are using science and algorithmic cleverness to work with it.
There’s also another, extra motor fitted within the front wheel hub that can power the bike if needs be… Something that is rather niftily demonstrated in the demo video when it shows the Honda worker requesting the bike to automatically follow them across the building floor.
Kind of like Tesla’s summon technology, only far more impressive because, motorcycles!
There’s no word at all from Honda on production timelines or even if it’s a technology that could ultimately transfer to the ‘real world’ in its current form, but with Yamaha talking up their Motobot, Kawasaki blindly calling everything that involves a computer ‘A.I’ and Suzuki finally giving us riding aids on our GSXR’s, there’s no doubting that this kind of tech is coming.
Are you ready for your new, robot overlords?