BMW Motorrad’s first autonomous motorbike was presented last week at the BMW Motorrad Techday 2018. A BMW R1200GS made its first rounds in front of assembled journalists, as if by magic without a rider, at the BMW Group testing ground in Miramas, southern France. Developed by graduate engineer Stefan Hans and his team, the vehicle independently drives off, accelerates, circles a winding test track and independently slows down to a stop.
BMW Motorrad isn’t aiming for a completely independent motorbike, but rather developing the underlying technology that could serve as a platform for future systems and functions to make motorcycling safer, more comfortable and increase riding pleasure. The aim of the prototype is to gather additional knowledge with regards to driving dynamics in order to detect dangerous situations early on and thus support the rider with appropriate safety systems while turning at intersections or when braking suddenly, for example.
To see it in action, check out this video:
In addition to this impressive demonstration, BMW Motorrad presented other technology projects. Motorcycle lighting from cornering lights to laser headlights were highlights as well as a motorcycle frame and swingarm manufactured completely using a 3D printing process. As with the development of its autonomous motorcycles, BMW Motorrad here too has utilized synergies with BMW automobiles — this manufacturing process has already made its way into series production for various vehicles. The advantage of 3D printing lies in the complete freedom of designing components that could not be produced in other ways.
The processes used in the production of motorcycle chassis components, such as frame, swingarm and wheels are made from the lightweight, yet high-strength carbon fiber — already industrially manufactured in the BMW HP4 Race — further demonstrating BMW Motorrad’s technical competence and excellence in this field. With the goal of maximum innovation and highest possible quality, BMW Motorrad and BMW Automobile have a close alliance in this field too, where this material has long been used in series production.
According to BMW Motorrad they have “demonstrated how the rapid pace of digitization will change the future of motorcycling. BMW Motorrad is taking two-wheeler needs into consideration for tomorrow’s world of transport and preparing for it technically. Above all, the Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication between vehicles are in the foreground further enhancing safety and comfort for the motorcyclist through digital networking.” Here, too, BMW Motorrad benefits from close cooperation with BMW Automobiles.