CES 2017: Honda Shows Self-Balancing Motorcycle

Safety tech takes forefront
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Honda's CES press conference keyed on the advantages of autonomous driving and safety technologies.

Honda Americas R&D president Frank Paluch said his company is "radically rethinking the future of the mobility experience ... and making people's lives better," and his CES announcements proved the point.

The Japanese automaker has long been considered a model to the car industry for efficiency and safety and Paluch underscored that claim, citing robotics, artificial intelligence and big data as the keys to advancing technology's potential.

"It's this nexus of transformative technology and innovation that forms Honda's cooperative automotive ecosystem," Paluch said.

Paluch pointed to a future of vehicles communicating with each other and a greater infrastructure that can mitigate traffic "and ultimately eliminate traffic fatalities."

To that end, Paluch introduced Honda's "Safe Swarm" concept. "By using vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communications, and drawing upon Cloud-based big data and artificial intelligence decision making, we are seeking to create an infrastructure in which road conditions are predicted, managed and road condition problems are avoided."

But Paluch added, "This is not something we can accomplish on our own. This is why we are at CES. This challenge require the cooperation of everyone -- industries, local, state and federal government, suppliers, OEMS, other individuals. But this kind of advance collaboration

On the hardware side, Paluch brought out a riderless Uni-Cub vehicle, the autonomous Honda mini-car previously announced, as an example, and followed it with a new self-balancing motorcycle.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal accidents on motorcycles occur at a rate 27 times greater than with cars. As a side benefit, Honda spokesperson Sage Marie said the motorcycle could be equipped with self-driving capability. A rider could get off the bike curbside at a restaurant, for example, then go inside while the bike finds its own parking, she told CNET.

The motorcycle uses Honda's own technology to keep it upright, rather than gyroscopes that would add weight.

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