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Does anyone want an autonomous motorcycle?

While there are certainly exceptions, many of the cars on the road today were purchased without much thought to the joy of driving them. People want cars to be safe. They want cars to be reliable. Only a small percentage of car buyers are looking for a thrill in driving their vehicles. For the average car buyer, a car that drives itself would be very appealing, provided it did so in a safe and efficient manner.

The same things cannot be said of many motorcyclists. Again, there are exceptions, but many riders care deeply about the joy of personally operating their vehicles. Autonomous driving might not be appealing to a large segment of this population. A different approach will be necessary to serve the interests of motorcycle enthusiasts.

Assistance, not replacement

Companies looking to automate the driving experience are looking at ways to help motorcyclists stay safe, without sacrificing the riding experience. This could be of particular value, as motorcyclists face dangers that people in passenger cars do not seem to appreciate.

A car moving into a lane occupied by a motorcycle, without signaling, might get dented in the ensuing collision. The motorcyclist has a significant chance of losing his or her life. Safety systems designed to warn the rider or even avoid the collision would likely be welcome. The key is that the automation would only serve to augment the rider's ability to stay safe.

There are many devices in the driver-assistance mold. Motorcyclists are unlikely to ever want a machine handling the operation of their bikes. They might want some help dealing with drivers who are often at fault in the collisions between car and motorcycle.

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