In recent years, CES has become a great platform for companies to showcase new technologies from any industry, including the motorcycle one. This year has been no different and a number of manufacturers took the stage with their latest high-tech toys. It was the case for BMW that didn’t have anything exactly new to show, but definitely something that got everyone’s attention: the self-riding R 1200 GS, or what we like to call the real ghost rider.
The technology in itself isn’t new: in fact, BMW has been using autonomous technology for safe testing for a while now, starting with a C1 scooter fitted with all the bells and whistles to make the covered moped ride around on its own. However, CES is a great place to show the public what the company has been working on tech-wise and to get a few double takes from people walking across the riderless bike.
The automated R 1200 GS demonstrated in Vegas accelerates, steers, leans, slows down, brakes, and even flips the side stand out when it comes to a standstill, all on its own. While the company hasn’t confirmed exactly how it all works, we can suppose that a number cameras, gyroscopes, and radars are involved to get the bike going. Beemer has been running the autonomous bike since the summer and while we’ve seen it in action before, the view remains unsettling.
Don’t worry, this isn’t BMW’s prediction of a fully automated future for the motorcycle industry. Its purpose is rather to safely test the latest safety and rider assist technologies developed by the brand without putting an actual rider at risk. Systems such as adaptive cruise control, brake assist, ABS, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and even traction control can, therefore, be developed thanks to the data collected by the self-riding GS’ systems and its interactions with other vehicles.
Now that we know that our role as riders is safe, for now, we get to truly appreciate just how weird a bike without a rider looks.