Honda Riding Assist Motorcycle
Once a year, manufacturers break out their latest technological advances and scurry over to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. While the CES is not a motorcycle-centric event, there are always a few morsels for us two-wheeled enthusiasts. This year, Honda took the opportunity at CES to announce its new experimental “Riding Assist” technology.
The modern motorcycle is quite the sophisticated machine, but this is something a bit different. Though the “Riding Assist” name is vague, it keeps a motorcycle upright--with or without a rider. Interestingly, it achieves self balancing without the use of gyroscopes, which can add much weight.
At first glance, this appears to be some sort of sorcery or perhaps witchcraft. Like the sensible man I am, I reached for my pitchfork. However, the explanation is far more simple, and for now, my pitchfork has been stowed.
Honda is focusing on low speed stability with “Rider Assist” technology, aiding riders when traveling at speeds less than 3 mph. The technology automatically increases the rake, giving the bike a lower center of gravity and an extended wheelbase. To maintain balance, the Honda Riding Assist motorcycle steers to the left and right in minute amounts. Think of how a Trials rider or how a cyclist maintains balance while stopped.
Honda states that this technology was an offshoot of the Honda AISMO and the self-balancing scooter, known as the Uni-Cub. It’s easy to see how those two platforms provided engineers with a starting point.
Another interesting feature is the “follow” mode. I’ve always wanted to walk my motorcycles, and perhaps in the near future, I’ll be able to. I suspect it will be an exciting bonding experience for us both.
Honda hasn’t stated if the Riding Assist motorcycle will enter the consumer market any time soon. It's worth noting that the platform chosen to illustrate this new tech is what appears to be the NC700X. This type of technology seems ripe for lower-displacement motorcycles and scooters, but for now, we’ll have to wait.