Stand on its own two wheels

De­vel­oped from the Asimo robot this bike is close to pro­duc­tion

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - JESSE ADAMS

FOR NEARLY two decades Honda’s been in­vest­ing huge money in its Asimo robot – a boy-like hu­manoid which has pro­gressed from a wob­bly set of me­chan­i­cal legs in its early years to a run­ning, danc­ing and tray-car­ry­ing lit­tle ma­chine ser­vant still wow­ing crowds at mo­tor and tech shows around the world to­day.

But, even with all of Asimo’s im­pres­sive ad­vance­ments in bal­anc­ing tech­nol­ogy, there are still some more cyn­i­cal show­go­ers ask­ing what the point of such an ex­pen­sive android is.

Now Honda has put some of its costly devel­op­ment to use in an ap­pli­ca­tion that could see the real world – a self-bal­anc­ing mo­tor­cy­cle that can stand on two wheels with­out help from a rider. Honda show­cased its new Rid­ing As­sist tech­nol­ogy at the re­cent Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show (CES) in Las Ve­gas, where it rolled a re­mote con­trol but other­wise nor­mal look­ing NC750 out onto the stage all on its lone­some.

The Rid­ing As­sist-equipped mo­tor­cy­cle can do its thing from a stand­still up to around 5km/h, bal­anc­ing by it­self with com­puter con­trolled steer­ing in­puts in much the same way as reg­u­lar rider would. Un­like the sim­i­lar BMW Mo­tor­rad Vi­sion Next 100 con­cept bike, Honda’s ef­fort uses lean an­gle sen­sors in­stead of heavy gy­ro­scopes to stay up­right, coun­ter­act­ing tip­ping points with elec­tronic steer-by-wire in­puts and front fork an­gle ad­just­ments. Some of the sci­en­tific voodoo at work here was trans­ferred di­rectly from Asimo, as well as Honda’s Seg­way-es­que, one-wheeled mo­bil­ity scooter called the Uni-Cub.

If the Rid­ing As­sist tech makes it to pro­duc­tion, and Honda has said it would be rel­a­tively easy to do, it would likely be mar­keted as a safety fea­ture for be­gin­ner to novice rid­ers. But, what ex­pe­ri­enced su­per­bike break­fast-run­ner wouldn’t also get a kick out of park­ing up along­side his old school kick­stand bud­dies, and walk­ing away while his bike stands per­fectly ver­ti­cal on its own? We would.

Look Ma, no hands. Honda showed a self bal­anc­ing NC750 at Las Ve­gas.

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