Honda's Self-Balancing Motorcycle


Grim said...

All it really needed was a gyroscope. At speed, it functions like a gyroscope anyway.

raven said...

A lot of the new computer encrusted bikes are coming out with a 5 axis Inertial measuring Unit. So it can detect acceleration, deceleration, side force, pitch ,roll and yaw, enabling things like anti lock brakes and traction control in cornering modes.
This Honda with a moveable fork angle is interesting- not sure what it does, the video was not clear on that- it does not look like it had anything to do with balancing the bike at low speeds-

douglas said...

This is interesting. The problem with using a gyroscope to stabilize something as large as a motorcycle is how heavy it would be. I watched a couple more videos about the bike and it seems it's mainly geared to low speed stability, but I'd reckon they made it so it'll improve high speed stability and handling at all speeds also. All you have to do is have it change fork angle to improve stability when heading straight, and when turning, adjust fork angle to improve handling. Bike front end geometry is fairly complex, mainly because you have several major variables operating at once along with several more minor variables. This guy gives a pretty good explanation of how the geometry works. I came across this calculator which probably is of no use to anyone else here, but note the last field which tells you for any given setup at what steering angle the trail passes zero (which induces flop- rapid loss of stability). With Hondas variable fork, you could hold that point off further than a fixed geometry bike could, which is interesting.

It seems it's mainly balancing in the same fashion as a cyclist doing a track stand (I rode fairly seriously for years but never really got good at this). I'm imagining that this Honda does the same thing but with thousands of tiny movements rather than a few larger scale movements as a human would.

All that said, I don't know if I'd like to ride it. First, part of the thrill of riding is the connection of man to machine in such a close fashion, and my experience with 'smart' systems (like cars with drive by wire accelerators or steering) is that they sometimes don't read my intentions correctly, or prevent me from doing things that I want to do because some people do it wrong or unsafely. They also have to be in perfect working order, so if a problem pops up, you can't nurse it along because the car won't let you as it's smart system is reading the situation incorrectly now and you can't override it. Second, doesn't one want to master the bike? If the bike can do it all by itself (or mostly), what am I become but a mere passenger?

That's not to say I don't like smart supplementation- Anti lock brakes for instance- that perform a singular function better than I might, but leave me in command.