Remember, recently Honda introduced a motorcycle that not only knows how to stand on two wheels without any supports, but also knows how to slowly move at a walking pace behind the owner? One aspect of this technology is the automatic steering system – the motorcycle literally rotates the front wheel to maintain balance. Honda recently filed a patent for an automatic steering system to help avoid accidents.
Honda automatic steering system
As is usually the case, some of Honda’s rivals in the Big Four are working on something similar, in particular, Yamaha showed a Motobot four years ago, which was supposedly able to go faster than a person. He was even released on the track to chase with Valentino Rossi, but thanks to Vale, the uprising of the machines was then postponed: the Motobot finished half a minute after the savior of mankind. As for Honda, they make robots in other divisions, and they build automatic control systems into motorcycles to help people in some very specific situations.
According to the patent, the motorcycle is equipped with a steering actuator, an actuator control module, an obstacle detection module and a driver status detection module. The steering actuator is able to steer the front wheel at the command of the control module, which in turn is controlled by the obstacle detection module.
The explanation states that this system should be triggered in those rare cases when the driver fell off the motorcycle as a result of a collision (or other reasons), and the motorcycle continued to move without control. This happens quite often in races, when the rear suspension ejects as a result of a rider’s highside, but on the road this is more of an unpleasant curiosity that will be included in a selection of unusual accidents than a common situation.
However, there is nothing wrong with that in a situation where the driver does “left” motorcycle, the control was taken over by a system capable of preventing the occurrence of additional damage from a motorcycle moving without control. To do this, the motorcycle (it is easy to identify ST1300 in the sketches in the patent, but this model has been discontinued) is equipped with additional components: a gyroscopic sensor (G-sensor), a camera, a radar and a lidar (this is a radar-type device, but uses lasers to determine the distance and speed , approximately as in a laser rangefinder), according to which a picture of what is happening around the motorcycle is built in the control module. It determines if there was a collision, and whether the rider remained in the saddle after it, and in the unlikely event that the motorcycle is running, but the rider is not on it, the module takes command.
With camera, radar and lidar system “sees”what is happening around, and, acting with electronic gas, brakes and steering actuator, it controls the speed and direction of the motorcycle, take it away from collisions with other objects on the road, and also prevent exiting onto the sidewalk, where it can pose a danger to pedestrians.
If there is no risk of collisions
If there is no risk of collisions, the system will allow the motorcycle to fall with the handlebars locked in a straight position. In this case, the end of the steering wheel will have the main energy from a collision with the asphalt – it will play the role of a kind of safety arc, protecting the side of the motorcycle from abrasion. In addition, the metal end of the handlebars when sliding on the asphalt will brake the motorcycle more efficiently than the streamlined side plastic.
Safe and comfortable motorcycles
It would seem that such an unlikely coincidence of circumstances as the movement of a motorcycle after a rider’s fall simply does not deserve attention, and even more so the development of special technology, but the importance of a patent is generally not in this. Honda is simply considering all the possibilities a self-driving motorcycle can offer, and this is one of them. In particular, exactly the same set of sensors and control units will make it possible to implement semi-automatic cruise control or other electronic assistants. How do you, for example, styling control, correcting too sharp or, on the contrary, insufficient steering effort in much the same way as traction control corrects traction, and ABS – braking effort? Seems strange? Well, in the past, combined brakes were considered a gross interference with the rider’s intentions, but now heavy motorcycles are equipped with them more often, because it is safer and more convenient. As a result, the trend is on “safe and comfortable” motorcycles are defining the direction of technology, and that’s great.