Self-Balancing Riderless Motorcycle

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Self-Balancing Riderless Motorcycle
Credit: EPFL / Alain Herzog

Until now, you only had an idea about autonomous cars. The autonomous car is capable of sensing its environment and navigates without a driver. It uses a variety of techniques such as radar, lidar, GPS, odometry and computer vision. Like Google self-driving cars, we are about to see the riderless motorcycle. Similarly, Eric Unnervik, a microengineering student from EPFL have developed a new riderless motorcycle. This riderless motorcycle is a completely autonomous motorcycle that can beat human riders.

Eric develops a tiny version of this concept for his Master’s project. He did in the Automatic Control Laboratory under the guidance of Professor Colin Jones. This new riderless motorcycle is able to travel at a speed of 60 km/hour without falling. This self-driving, GPS-guided motorcycle may far off, but Unnervik already overcomes this main challenge of two-wheeled vehicles by keeping them upright.

Eric said, “Motorcycles fall as soon as they stop. They must always maintain speed, and the only way to stabilize them is to use the steering angle, which is controlled by a servomotor.”

This riderless motorcycle is fitted with an actual computer: a credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi and sensors that measure the motorcycle’s angle and speed. It consists of Wi-Fi chip to operate the computer from a smartphone. It can be used as a remote-control device to tell the motorcycle where to go. The computer makes all the necessary adjustments to ensure the motorcycle remains upright.

Although, the motorcycle needs more help from his operator. The Automatic Control Laboratory is already working on versions capable of following a predetermined route. Ultimately, they want the machine to outperform a human rider.

Eric said, “Our goal is that in a race between an autonomous motorcycle and one ridden by a human, our machine wins.”

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