Motorcycles

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle follows you around like a puppy

Honda's self-balancing motorcy...
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: I love to believe Honda R&D guys dress like this all day
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: I love to believe Honda R&D guys dress like this all day
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle can follow you around, thanks to its automatic transmission
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle can follow you around, thanks to its automatic transmission
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle follows you around like a puppy
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle follows you around like a puppy
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: offset on the lower triple clamp allows you to change the angle of the forks
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: offset on the lower triple clamp allows you to change the angle of the forks
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle rakes itself out to low-rider proportions when it's time to self-balance
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle rakes itself out to low-rider proportions when it's time to self-balance
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle seems to be able to balance with a rider on board, albeit a fairly stationary one
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle seems to be able to balance with a rider on board, albeit a fairly stationary one
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: I love to believe Honda R&D guys dress like this all day
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: I love to believe Honda R&D guys dress like this all day
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle uses technology derived from Honda's UNI-CUB unicycle
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Honda's self-balancing motorcycle uses technology derived from Honda's UNI-CUB unicycle
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One of the cutest things we've seen at CES 2017 is Honda's self-balancing motorcycle – a modified NC750S that uses technology derived from Honda's self-balancing unicycles to keep itself upright. Plus, it can follow you around like a puppy at walking pace, which is adorable.

Honda is well and truly into self-balancing personal transport gear. The U3-X and UNI-CUB unicycle devices are neat, fun little jiggers built to solve a potentially devastating problem Japan is facing earlier than the rest of the world.

Put simply, Japan isn't having enough babies. By 2050, projections show a population with nearly twice as many 70-80 year olds as 20-30 year olds. There won't be enough youngsters to do the work of keeping the country going as well as taking care of the oldies.

So Honda and the rest of the vaunted Japanese robotics industry are scrambling to figure out how to make older people as mobile and independent as possible. Self-balancing walking pace unicycles like the two mentioned above provide last-mile transport assistance that open up most of a city to somebody that can't walk long distances, when you use them in conjunction with public transport.

But once you've got an understanding of a technology, you might as well apply it elsewhere, and that seems to be what's going on with Honda's cutest reveal at this year's CES show in Las Vegas.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle rakes itself out to low-rider proportions when it's time to self-balance
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle rakes itself out to low-rider proportions when it's time to self-balance

Using UNI-CUB technology, Honda has demonstrated a motorcycle with the ability to self-balance, and even self-drive at slow speeds.

The bike appears to be a modified NC750S – a twin-cylinder midrange nakedbike that uses Honda's clutchless automatic dual-clutch transmission. "This Riding Assist does not use large gyroscopes, which would add a lot of weight and limit the bike's ability to maneuver," says Honda's global president of R&D, Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, "It leverages Honda Robotics technology originally developed for the UNI-CUB."

From what we can see, it seems to balance itself mainly by turning the front wheel, an effect that is enhanced by raking out the front forks using a mechanical offset at the lower triple-clamp. The bike happily stands up by itself, or with a rider on board, but it does look like the rider needs to stay pretty still.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: offset on the lower triple clamp allows you to change the angle of the forks
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle: offset on the lower triple clamp allows you to change the angle of the forks

The ability to self-balance, plus the auto transmission, also enables another nifty feature: the bike can be set to follow you around like a puppy as you walk, which could end up making it easier to park and navigate through tight spaces. Mind you, it'd need to be pretty smart to get through tighter spaces than a decent rider could manage.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle follows you around like a puppy
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle follows you around like a puppy

This is not the first self-balancing motorcycle concept we've seen. The Lit Motors C-1 and Thrustcycle Gyrocycle are both in on the action, not to mention BMW Motorrad's wacky Vision Next 100 concept, but it's good to see a major manufacturer like Honda actually build something this far out of the box.

Check out the self-balancing Honda in the video below.

Honda Riding Assist

Source: Honda

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9 comments
Imran Sheikh
Honda is Definitely a Company Truly Dedicated to Future.
Milton
@Imran: Then why is Honda so slow to adopt EVs ?
Jason Catterall
@Milton: Possibly because Honda doesn't consider EVs (at least in their current iteration) to be the future?
VincentWolf
Yeah and all these manufactures continue to make these bikes with seat height of 32 to 35 inches in which you have to be 6 feet tall to touch your feet.......why not make all bikes around 22 to 25 inches like a real chair or something. Low riders right? Uh uh they won't do that. Too entrenched in ONLY designing bikes for young people. Rude describes all the manufacturers!
f8lee
Cute - I wonder how that rake-changing fork will withstand real riding over time - looks like another point of potential failure. But kudos to Honda for making a go of it (and I think I agree with their possible feeling that EVs are not the future in any real sense today).
And, @VincentWolf - my understanding is that motorcycle makers produce seats that feel comfortable in the showroom, fully acknowledging that owners will soon want to change the seat for something better - thus the aftermarket industry. The engineer telling the story said that if they put the comfy seats on initially, folks would not buy the bikes. But the point is that there is a big aftermarket seat industry out there, so perhaps you can find a shaved seat that allows you to ride comfortably.
agulesin
Would someone tell me why they would want a motorcycle following them around? What if it starts following the wrong person? you'll send up with the police cops running you in!!
Grunchy
With motorized steering head and motorized rake, there is definitely added mass. Maybe not as much as a gyroscope, but not as effective as a gyroscope either (for example, if you were to give it a big kick from the side I bet it would fall down). Personally I would connect the gyroscope to the drive train: braking would energize the gyroscope, and taking off would de-energize it for launch power & improved handling. I heard of a car once that had a flywheel hidden beneath the floor, it had a gutless high-efficiency engine yet could accelerate faster than most other traffic, because it spent its time at the stop light energizing the flywheel (the energy from which was used to launch the car). There are probably many ways of doing the same thing.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. It reminds me of the Lit Motors with its self standing vehicle.
SaysMe
Having it follow is awesome, hawlve you ever had to push a bike before? Not as fun... With it wobbling it's head, like that it can do a scan up ahead, but in faster pace it really does not need to move the front as such. What about wearing a hole in tire if in one position for a long time? You could get the seat lower to ground if you don't need to stear, for areodynamics...