Motorcycles And Autonomous Cars: IBM’s Solution

Published July 11, 2016

This patent from IBM might solve the problem about how motorcycles will fit in alongside . In fact, it’s not really geared towards motorcycles, but any other “dumb” vehicle operator… However, the idea of an autonomous motorcycle is ridiculous, so if we want to keep riding in the future, then this will mainly apply to us. According to industry predictions, all cars will eventually be autonomous, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that us regular motorcyclists will be any safer because of it.

Since we’re apparently about to enter a period of transition, IBM have come up with clever system that alerts a self-driving car to the approach of a regular, manually driven vehicle, and that tells it to expect the unexpected and give us analog riders a wide berth. As a rider, I’ve never given much thought to how autonomous vehicles might affect the way I get from A to B, but it’s time to start thinking about it. Check out the video below.

Computerized systems work perfectly well, until you throw a human into the equation – and that’s exactly what will happen. Good old fashioned riders will be the anomalies that throw the whole system off kilter. But IBM have just filed a patent that might solve that problem. It’s called the “Automatic Driver Modeling For Integration Of Human-controlled Vehicles Into An Autonomous Vehicle Network” – snappy title, I know – and it allows an autonomous vehicle to study your riding habits, and adjust accordingly. Since all autonomous vehicles can sense each other, if something’s moving around that’s quite clearly not one of their own kind, they can now do something about it.

So: you’re on the road and favor riding on one side of the lane, and you have a habit of braking a bit later than you should – the autonomous car then processes this information and compares it to a similar model that’s logged and stored on some satellite somewhere (or something like that) and uses the pre-loaded model to adjust its driving to cater for your riding style. Or get out of your way entirely.

IBM’s model is just a patent, but a system like this will be the norm in the coming years, as traditional car drivers are replaced by robot software. So, we’d better get accustomed to something like this if we’re going to continue riding in the future. And like all things, it will be rocky at first…


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Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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