Are self-driving cars a threat to us motorcyclists?
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Are self-driving cars a threat to us motorcyclists?

By 25.03.2021March 28th, 20216 Comments

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made a number of bold statements about autonomous cars during the last couple of years, and has, despite all the naysayers made big moves towards developing a fully functioning level 5 autonomous car.

Currently, the EV maker is already building cars with an Autopilot driver assistance system, but in reality, this is nothing compared to a fully autonomous driving function, with which the driver can practically take a nap while the car drives itself.

Despite Musk’s claims that fully autonomous cars (AVs) could just be around the corner, a lot of technical and regulatory obstacles remain, and it may just be too early to tell how and when AVs will disrupt motorcycle markets.

In the meantime, we can only speculate what all this new tech means for the safety and riding pleasure of us motorcyclists.

With the installation of logic driven computers, self-learning systems and a ton of cameras and safety features, it seems like cars are increasingly well-equipped to deal with unexpected situations… but what happens when a sensor fails… or when a camera feed shuts down?

A number of highly interesting studies have been conducted on the topic, but with AV technology advancing at a rapid pace, it seems like a lot more studies will have to be conducted in the near future before AVs can begin to co-exist with human-operated vehicles. Let alone smaller, less noticeable motorcycles.

The most important word here is ‘co-exist’. It seems a mere question of time before AVs begin to hit the roads. Despite rumors that AVs could mean the end of motorcycles, or fears that AVs may knock you off your bike, it’s important to know that the development of autonomous driving tech won’t happen overnight. A lot of testing will be done before that time.

Some studies are already concluding that new motorcycles may have to be outfitted with some kind of sensor that informs autonomous vehicles of their location in space and time (think airplanes).

In the end, with better artificial Intelligence systems in development, the safety of the motorcyclist and other users on the road will depend on the quality of data and the speed of data exchange between vehicles.

Autonomous driving tech isn’t likely to end the era of motorcycles, instead, it’s more likely that motorcycle tech will evolve along with automotive technology.  BMW is already developing autonomous motorcycle riding functions, which may be able to guide you through boring sections, until you make it to more interesting twisty roads.

And if you think this is futuristic, Yamaha has been working on a concept bike called MOTOROiD, an electric bike which actually recognizes you as its owner and comes riding over to you (think KnightRider 🙂).

If you’re interested in the future of AVs and motorcycles, published a super interesting article about this topic last month.




  • Brian H. says:

    I never gave this much thought until I read this and it made me think about Lane Splitting. How will an “Auto” vehicle react to Lane Splitting? I don’t use that option as a personal safety choice and would be even more concerned without knowing if that scenario has been factored in to the programming?

  • Mark W. says:

    Interesting article, but as an avid motorcycle rider I simply must take issue with the terminology being used. I hear far too often far too many riders use the term “drive” their motorcycles. We as motorcyclists “ride”. Whenever I hear someone misuse the term “drive” a motorcycle I assume that they are a new rider and haven’t fully adapted their mind and soul to the concept of “riding”. I know this is a minor issue, but I truly do see this as a stumbling block to wrapping ones life around the motorcycling lifestyle versus simply being a “poser.”

    • Guido says:

      Fully agree Mark. No posers here though. We all have many years of riding experience. It simply slipped in as the article is about autonomous DRIVING cars and the relation to RIDING motorcycle. Made two corrections.

    • James says:

      Where I live (Germany) horses are ridden (verb: reiten) but cars and bikes are definitely driven (verb: fahren).

    • Gary in Indiana says:

      In fact, legally, a motorcycle is operated by the “driver” while a second party behind them is a “rider” of/on that bike.
      That flew directly in the face of the way i had described those two individuals on a motorcycle but,is came directly from legal counsel for my state BMV.

  • Brodie says:

    I have no doubt that technology will be getting better and better as the years pass to where fully autonomous vehicles are permitted on our public roads and highways. That’s where the big money is pushing it.

    My concern is the legalities – that is, should the unfortunate happed (and it will), and someone should get injured by tangling with one of these computer guided “pods”; be it a pedestrian in a parking lot, or a motorcyclist out on a crowded highway – with reduced following distances made possible by technology. What would be the recourse? Who do you blame, the occupant of the AV car? The manufacturer? The mechanic that maintained the vehicle in “perfect” operating condition? The programmers for that vehicles Artificial Intelligence software?

    This whole self driving vehicle push has me hecka concerned!

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