The BMW R1200GS: One of the World’s First Autonomous Motorcycles


With such a strong focus on autonomy and assisted driving in today’s automotive industry, motorcycles have been--for the most part-- unfortunately left out. However, BMW Motorrad has recently revealed that their own researchers have spent the last two years working in secret to develop the BMW R1200GS, one of the world’s first ever autonomous motorcycles. And although the thought of a self-driving motorcycle popping up on the streets may be mildly disconcerting, BMW’s development and research are critical to the future of motorcycle safety--plus, they have never intended for these cycles to wind up on the road.

While initial impressions of the self-driving motorcycle may deem it superfluous, the BMW R1200GS is as close to fully autonomous as it gets, with the ability to start from a full stop, drive around a track while easily navigating corners, and park with the kickstand all on its own. BMW Motorrad is utilizing the self-driving R1200GS in order to research the motorcycle’s performance and determine how best to integrate certain safety systems into future bikes such as lane-keeping and automatic emergency braking. As BMW safety engineer Stefan Hans explains, “The prototype helps us to expand our knowledge of the vehicle’s dynamics so that we can classify the rider’s behavior and determine if a future situation will become dangerous or not. If so, we can inform, warn or intervene directly...In this project, it was not our goal to develop a fully automated motorcycle. We [just] want to improve motorcycle safety.”


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