The motorcycle that drives Itself

September 13, 2018

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BMW has revealed a self-driving motorcycle that can speed around a racetrack and even park itself without anyone sat on top.

 

The vehicle is powered by intelligent software that can turn, accelerate, lean around corners and brake with no human input.

 

BMW hopes the AI can one day keep bikers safe by operating as a driving assistant that automatically brakes or adjusts the steering during dangerous situations on the road.

 

In a new video, BMW Motorrad - the German automaker's motorcycle division - showed off a self-driving version of its R1200GS, a vehicle it has spent more than two years developing.

 

The driverless bike is shown starting its own engine, accelerating and then making turns on a racing track at breakneck speed before returning to a complete stop - all without a rider perched on its seat.

 

BMW claims the vehicle was not built for consumers, but to learn more about how it can work new safety features into its motorcycle range.

 

It is developing these tools to support inattentive drivers, providing 'more stability' in emergency situations.

 

These include scenarios at crossroads, during sharp turns or when braking quickly, according to the BMW Motorrad video.

 

'The prototype helps us to expand our knowledge about the vehicle's dynamics so that we can classify the rider's behaviour,' Stefan Hans, a Motorrad safety engineer, says in the video.

 

'This helps us determine if a future situation will become dangerous or not.

'If so, we can inform, warn or intervene directly.'

 

Researchers have already spent hundreds of hours developing the technology, and hope it could be installed in BMW motorcycles of the future.

 

The automaker has not revealed what technology it uses to help the bike see, but it likely involves use of motion-sensing cameras, lidar and AI technology - like almost all autonomous cars.

 

As self-driving technology grows, it appears our roads are destined to be filled with cars, trucks and other vehicles driven by robots.

 

But while the technology is improving, it seems the general public still isn't fully convinced.

A survey last month found that almost half of Americans have no interest in buying a fully self driving car. 

The Cox Automotive Evolution of Mobility Study found that consumer awareness of driverless vehicles has skyrocketed - but that people still want to be able to drive themselves.

 

Forty-nine per cent of respondents said they would never own a fully-autonomous car, known in the industry as a Level 5 vehicle, researchers found, up from 30 per cent in 2016.

 

It also found 84 per cent want to have the option to drive themselves even in a self-driving vehicle, compared to 16 per cent who would feel comfortable letting an autonomous vehicle drive them without that option.

 

HOW DO SELF-DRIVING CARS 'SEE'?

Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and depth-sensing 'LiDAR' units to recognise the world around them.

 

In LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanning - which is used by Waymo - one or more lasers send out short pulses, which bounce back when they hit an obstacle.

 

These sensors constantly scan the surrounding areas looking for information, acting as the 'eyes' of the car.

 

While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time.

 

In November last year Apple revealed details of its driverless car system that uses lasers to detect pedestrians and cyclists from a distance.

 

The Apple researchers said they were able to get 'highly encouraging results' in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data.

 

They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR.

 

Other self-driving cars generally rely on a combination of cameras, sensors and lasers. 

 

An example is Volvo's self driving cars that rely on around 28 cameras, sensors and lasers.

 

A network of computers process information, which together with GPS, generates a real-time map of moving and stationary objects in the environment.

 

Twelve ultrasonic sensors around the car are used to identify objects close to the vehicle and support autonomous drive at low speeds.

 

A wave radar and camera placed on the windscreen reads traffic signs and the road's curvature and can detect objects on the road such as other road users.

 

Four radars behind the front and rear bumpers also locate objects.

 

Two long-range radars on the bumper are used to detect fast-moving vehicles approaching from far behind, which is useful on motorways.

 

Four cameras - two on the wing mirrors, one on the grille and one on the rear bumper - monitor objects in close proximity to the vehicle and lane markings. 

 

DAILY MAIL

 

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