Motorcycles of the Future won’t need a kickstand and can’t fall over?
What is this magic-trickery at play here? A self-balancing autonomous motorcycle? Year after year it’s mind-boggling at some of the technology that is being tinkered with. Imagine the amount of money companies like Honda puts into machines like this self-balancing motorcycle, the UNI-CUB, ASIMO etc and to think these products could never come to market to where they can profit from them is crazy but without companies like Honda pushing the way forward and lifting the ceiling of what’s possible – we would have a very boring future ahead of us.
PS… Honda, if you’re listening… Get to work on a real hover board for the masses as I want one of those that we were promised from Back to the Future before my time on this earth ends haha.
Let’s get back to the coolest part (well, maybe craziest depending on your mindset) of this blog post and that’s the NC750S that Honda attacked with some of their witchcraft to turn it into what you see below. At first glance, it looks like a ‘stock’ NC750S model (pictured below) but with a different headlight setup. On a side note, I’m digging the headlight on this bike compared to the headlight that comes on a standard 2017 and prior NC750S / NC700S models. If you’re in the USA, you may not be familiar with the NC700 / NC750 “S” models as they never made it to our side of the pond sadly – we only get the NC700X variant and we also get gypped when it comes to the engine department haha. Why do I say gypped? Because other countries get the 750 class engine whereas we are stuck with the 700 engine that we’ve had since the NC700X was introduced in the USA.
Most self-balancing technology uses gyroscopes, but that adds a lot of weight, which could limit a motorcycle’s ability to maneuver. Instead, the Honda Riding Assist motorcycle leverages the company’s Robotics technology. When engaged, the system increases the fork angle of the front suspension lengthening its wheelbase and, disconnecting the front forks from the handlebars. The bike senses lean angles and swings the wheel to either side, thousands of times per second, to counteract any tendency tip over. The system then uses minute steering inputs to keep the bike perfectly balanced, without the use of heavy gyroscopes or other mass-shifting devices. The electronic steer-by-wire system disengages the handlebars from the front forks at speeds below 3 mph, passing control of the front wheel to the computer. When you accelerates above 3 mph, two anchors come back into the forks to lock them in place, returning the motorcycle to conventional steering. Because the handlebars and the forks have separate motors to move them while disconnected in steer-by-wire mode, they remain synchronized, so the rider retains control for low-speed maneuvering.
Honda also showcased at CES can that this technology can silently propel itself along following its owner, which makes you think Honda is looking into the future and that autonomous technology for motorcycles may be the next ‘big thing’. Check out the video below of the bike in action and if you’re anything like me you’ll get a kick out of where she touches the bike’s fender and then it follows her along like a dog – I was just thinking to myself did she tell him “that’s a good boy” haha.
(Detailed Video of Honda Riding Assist Motorcycle in Action & Breakdown of How it Works)
One more interesting tidbit of information is that Honda spokesperson Sage Marie said the motorcycle could be equipped with self-driving capability. A rider could get off the bike curbside at a restaurant, for example, then go inside while the bike finds its own parking.
You may be thinking to yourself… “What’s this actually good for?” “Who is going to use this?” etc. Aside from helping people that are physically handicapped get back on 2-wheels or on it for the first time but it could also benefit some of the larger bikes that are knocking on 1,000 lbs and can be difficult for some to balance at low speed – example: Gold Wing.
⊗ What do you guys think about this “Honda Riding Assist” technology? How about the NeuV and UNI-CUB? Any of this new technology something you’d like to actually see make it to ‘market’?
Here’s the official ‘Press Release’ from Honda:
LAS VEGAS. (Jan. 5, 2017) – Honda unveiled its Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem concept today at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, connecting the power of artificial intelligence, robotics and big data to transform the mobility experience of the future and improve customers’ quality of life. Featuring a number of prototype and concept technology demonstrations at CES, the Honda concept envisions a future where vehicles will communicate with each other and infrastructure to mitigate traffic congestion and eliminate traffic fatalities, while increasing the productivity of road users and delivering new types of in-vehicle entertainment experiences. Vehicles will create new value by autonomously providing services when not in use by their owners.
Honda also announced collaborations with Visa, DreamWorks Animation and innovative start-ups through the Honda Developer Studio and Honda Xcelerator open innovation programs based out of Honda Silicon Valley Lab. Further, as part of its effort to accelerate open innovation, Honda has established a new URL for areas including AI, Big Data and Robotics. Interested companies and individuals can access the following URL: http://www.honda.co.jp/openinnovation/.
Supporting its Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem theme, Honda introduced the Honda NeuV, an electric automated mini-vehicle concept equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) “emotion engine” and automated personal assistant, creating new possibilities for human interaction and new value for customers.
The global mobility company also introduced the Honda Moto Riding Assist, a concept motorcycle that applies Honda’s robotics technology to maintain balance. Visitors to Honda’s exhibit (LVCC, North Hall – 7312) also can experience firsthand Honda robotics technology by “test-driving” the UNI-CUB, the company’s self-balancing personal mobility device.
“Since our founding, Honda has focused on creating technologies that help people,” said Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, President & CEO of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. “Our goal is to showcase a future technology path that results in a redefined mobility experience.”
Following is a summary of the product and technology concepts Honda has on display at CES:
Honda Riding Assist motorcycle
In a global debut at CES 2017, Honda unveiled its Moto Riding Assist technology, which leverages Honda’s robotics technology to create a self-balancing motorcycle that greatly reduces the possibility of falling over while the motorcycle is at rest. Rather than relying on gyroscopes, which add a great deal of weight and alter the riding experience as announced by other companies, the Honda Moto Riding Assist incorporates technology originally developed for the company’s UNI-CUB personal mobility device.
Designed to create new possibilities for customers, the NeuV (pronounced “new-v”), which stands for New Electric Urban Vehicle, is a concept vehicle whose genesis is based on the fact that privately-owned vehicles sit idle 96 percent of the time. The NeuV explores the idea of how to create new value for its owner by functioning as an automated ride sharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations when the owner is not using the car. The NeuV also can sell energy back to the electric grid during times of high demand when it’s not in use. These activities have the potential to create a new business model for enterprising customers.
“We designed NeuV to become more valuable to the owner by optimizing and monetizing the vehicle’s down time,” said Mike Tsay, principal designer, Honda R&D Americas.
NeuV also functions as a thoughtful and helpful AI assistant utilizing an “emotion engine”, an emerging technology developed by Honda and SoftBank (cocoro SB Corp.). Called HANA (Honda Automated Network Assistant), in its application in the NeuV, the “emotion engine” will learn from the driver by detecting the emotions behind the driver’s judgments and then, based on the driver’s past decisions, make new choices and recommendations. HANA can check on the driver’s emotional well-being, make music recommendations based on mood, and support the owner’s daily driving routine.
The NeuV features a full touch panel interface enabling both the driver and passenger to access a simple and convenient user experience. The vehicle has two seats, a storage area in back, and an electric skateboard for “last mile” transit. The NeuV also features outstanding outward visibility via a headerless windshield and a dramatically sloping belt line that make maneuvering easy.
At CES, Honda launched its “Safe Swarm” concept, which utilizes bio-mimicry – replicating the behavior of a school of fish – to create a safer, more efficient and enjoyable driving experience. The Honda Safe Swarm demonstration immerses visitors in a world where vehicles sharing the road communicate with one another using dedicated short range communication (DSRC) to support the driver in negotiating complex driving situations. The Safe Swarm concept enables vehicles to operate cooperatively, enabling more efficient, low-stress and, ultimately, collision-free mobility.
“The autonomous age has dawned, and Honda, like all automakers, is working to refine and advance this technology to achieve our goal for a collision-free society in the 2040 timeframe,” said Frank Paluch, president, Honda R&D Americas. “Using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and drawing upon big data and artificial intelligence, Honda will work with others to create an environment in which road conditions are predicted and managed, and collisions avoided.”
The Honda UNI-CUB display enables CES attendees to experience a self-balancing personal mobility device that enables the seated rider to control speed, move in any direction and stop, all by simply shifting body weight. Earlier this year, the company opened the UNI-CUB’s API seeking to facilitate the creation of software that can control the device from a smartphone and other devices, which would provide the potential to expand its value and functionality for people. This expands upon the UNI-CUB’s original system, which currently allows the seated rider to control speed, move in any direction and stop, all by simply shifting body weight. With the ability to freely move forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, UNI-CUB can quickly and easily maneuver among people.
Open Innovation and Collaboration
Continuing its pursuit of open innovation and collaboration, Honda also announced initiatives with entrepreneurs, startups and global tech brands via the Honda Silicon Valley Lab.
Building on their mobile payment collaboration at last year’s Mobile World Congress, Honda is conducting two proof-of-concept demonstrations at CES created through its partnership with Visa. These demonstrations will be the first conduced with infrastructure partners Gilbarco Veeder-Root and IPS Group. The demos will showcase the simplicity and convenience when paying for services such as gasoline purchases and public parking from the comfort and safety of a vehicle.
- DreamWorks Animation
Honda has teamed with DreamWorks Animation to develop new cross-platform, augmented- and virtual reality-content and solutions for the in-vehicle experience. Honda is demonstrating a proof of concept version of its Honda Dream Drive in-car virtual reality prototype featuring exclusive DreamWorks Animation content at CES.
- Vocal Zoom
Through its Honda Xcelerator program, Honda is working with Vocal Zoom to apply its optical microphone technology to the in-car experience. By reading physical vibrations generated from the speaker’s voice, Vocal Zoom’s optical sensor ascertains additional layers of voice data not attainable by traditional acoustic mics alone. This additional information significantly increases an onboard computers’ understanding of voice commands, especially in harsh-noise environments.
- LEIA Inc.
Through another Honda Xcelerator collaboration, with LEIA, Honda has developed a new driver’s display concept that uses LEIA’s nano technology to provide three-dimensional images, providing seamless transitions between different viewing angles for warnings and driver-assistive systems. Although 3D can be distracting if it isn’t designed correctly, the LEIA’s nanotech approach presents depth in a way that feels natural. Honda sees a number of potential applications for this technology, from navigation to traffic information.
CES attendees can learn more and experience demonstrations of the Honda Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem at the Honda booth (#7312) from January 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Videos, images and more details can be found at www.honda.us/CES2017.