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BMW showcase self-riding technology at CES Las Vegas

Published: 09 January 2019

Updated: 12 September 2018

BMW have been showing off their self-riding R1200GS at the CES technology show in Las Vegas as you can see in the video above.

We first learned of the project in 2018 when BMW revealed they were set to introduce a raft of self-riding safety features and showed MCN their top-secret self-riding bike. Based on a BMW R1200GS, it is able to move off, steer and ride around a set course on its own and can sense danger and take according action.

"We can shift gears, we can steer the bike, but the fully automatic motorcycle is not our goal," said BMW’s Active Motorcycle Safety expert, Stefan Hans. "This is about development and if we can create a bike that can cope with all riding tasks we can offer it as an assistance system for the rider.

"Safety is one of the main things that stop people riding motorcycles. If we look at the last 20 years, deaths in cars have gone down by 73%, while deaths on bikes only gone down by 38%.

The inner workings of the self riding bike

"Technical advancement for safety has been much slower for bikes. For example, ABS on cars came 10 years before it did on bikes, traction control 20 years later. Cars now can intervene before something dangerous happens and we need to learn more about motorcycles to help riders avoid getting in a critical situation."

The systems for normal riders don’t always have to take over

The bike uses radar to monitor what is happening on the road ahead, looking three seconds in advance and has automatic actuators on the steering, gearbox and brakes, the lessons learnt here will be applied directly to safety devices we’ll see in the next few years.

"The systems for normal riders don’t always have to take over, just make a reaction that would allow the rider to take action. A good example would be a rider looking at a view who doesn’t see a curve coming up. A blip of the brake or throttle could be enough to get the rider’s attention and for him to take control."

The bike is a step in the journey towards safer motorbikes

In the future BMW claim that direct intervention will also save lives. "We can monitor many dynamic aspects of the ride. We know how many people crash when they think they can’t got around the corner, even if the bike is capable of much more and we’ll be able to help with that by reducing engine torque or increasing lean within a set parameter."

BMW are yet to give a timescale for introduction, but we expect to see a road-monitoring system with minor dynamic inputs within two years with more advanced systems further down the line.

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