Most industry experts believe it is only a matter of time until the majority of cars on the road are autonomous, or self-driving. Tech companies, carmakers and others have invested over $80 billion and counting in self-driving vehicle technology.
Some skepticism remains, of course. It is hard to put your life in the hands of new technology. And in the case of motorcycle riders, part of the fun is having control over the machine. Many riders may be reluctant to give up control of the bike. It is likely one of the reasons why carmakers are focusing on sedans and commercial vehicles; the market for those vehicles is likely higher, at least initially, than for motorcycles.
Cars pose biggest risk to motorcycle riders
That is not to say that self-driving technology won’t benefit riders, even if they choose to have manual control. One of the biggest threats to motorcyclists are that cars that fail to see motorcycles when turning or changing lanes.
That is why a U.S. Senate bill on autonomous vehicles includes testing to ensure that self-driving cars adequately account for motorcycles. If cars can detect motorcyclists with more accuracy than many people, a lot of lives could be saved.
Currently, there is very little testing being done about self-driving motorcycles or whether self-driving cars will be safe for other motorcyclists out on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for example, has issued two guidelines for autonomous vehicle manufacturers; in neither version is it required that carmakers test for safety to motorcyclists.
Obstacles still remain for self-driving cars
The threat to motorcyclists is just one obstacle to getting self-driving cars out on the road. So while self-driving cars may one day help cut down on accidents by being able to “see” motorcycles more clearly than other drivers, motorcyclists should not expect roads to be safer any time soon.