We’ve seen self-balancing motorcycle technology before. Heck, we’ve even seen self-balancing unicycle tech based on gyroscopes before. Now Facebook has a patent application in place that pulls the two ideas together—and more, besides.
In Facebook’s application filing with the US Patent Office, the company refers to it as a “self-balancing robotic motorcycle.” Key concepts of this design involve the control loop stabilizer that balances the bike automatically—not to mention that either wheel is capable of driving and/or steering. Also, just look at where and how the brakes—both disc brakes, thankfully, and I shouldn’t have to be saying that in 2019—are mounted.
Gallery: Facebook Self-Balancing Robotic Motorcycle Patent
It’s unclear to what end this patent application is headed—perhaps if Google can develop self-driving cars, then maybe Facebook wants to head in a more small-space-friendly two-wheeled direction? Think strictly in-town commutes, or possibly even just getting across large business or school campuses.
The social media company does offer a few potential use cases in this application, including these:
“The vehicular platform described herein can have a multitude of applications. For example, the vehicular platform may, when integrated within a motorcycle design, provide an improved (and potentially autonomous) form of transportation for humans. This vehicular platform may also be used to support a robot that that is configured to navigate through extreme environmental conditions, perform surgery in a hospital, manage a data center, etc.”
In other words, while it’s technically a motor-driven cycle of some sort, it’s very much its own branch on the moto family tree.
This passage is pretty interesting, though:
“As detailed above, the disclosed vehicular platform and self-balancing, robotic motorcycle may provide many advantages. For example, the motorcycle's power assembly (which may include both driving and steering assemblies) may be located entirely outside the circumference of its wheels, thus protecting the power assembly from forceful impacts as well as environmental conditions that may surround its wheels. Similar benefits may be achieved by disposing the motorcycle's brake assembly distally from its wheels. The robotic motorcycle disclosed herein may also be configured to allow its wheels to freely rotate 360 degrees about its steering axis without becoming entangled by electrical wires or other components of the drive assembly.”
The potential maneuverability of this design is fascinating. The application breaks it down into several systems, and suggests that some or all of them may be used together or separately, so it’s possible that this will be the root of more than one thing that Facebook has planned. Stay tuned.