A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

I, For One, Welcome Our Self-Driving Overlords

08/07/2012 @ 5:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

I, For One, Welcome Our Self Driving Overlords google self driving car 635x359

The day may have come sooner than we expected, but the day of commuters being scooted around by self-driving cars is rapidly approaching us. Clocking 300,000 self-driven accident-free miles, Google’s fleet of autonomous vehicles are set to reach another milestone, as the technology company is about to give the go-ahead for employees to use the cars for commuting.

Traditionally driven with one person behind the wheel, and another in the passenger seat (presumably watching a screen of diagnostics), Google says that the results from its tests and track record have shown the two-rider system to be unnecessary, and will thus allow solitary trips in the self-driving vehicles. The idea of course behind the system is that a person becomes a passive driver, able to “be more productive” while in the vehicle, i.e. watching YouTube kitten videos.

While the dozen or so self-driving Google cars are unlikely to make a huge impact (no pun intended) on our local commutes here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is a signaling of the changing times in our transportation system. For motorcyclists, this news should come as a mixed bag.

With our highway systems already a minefield full of distracted drivers, who are already busy sexting while in the car (or worse), the idea that the vehicle itself is at least paying better attention to the road than its driver should be seen as a positive move for our society.

However, with motorcycles being highly dynamic entities on the motorway, e.g. the rapid changes that motorcycles make to their lane-position, vehicle speed, and proximity to other vehicles, a commuting alongside motorcycles could pose a problem for automated systems — especially systems that interconnect vehicles to each other.

With Google’s self-driving cars already noted for having difficulties with temporary road signs, and snow covered roads, there has to be at least a question mark as to how its automated fleet handles motorcycles. Californians, just think about lane-sharing for a minute. Yeah…ok.

If there are any Googlers in the A&R audience drop me a line. I think we all would be curious to hear how these cars handle driving alongside our preferred two-wheeled form of transportation.

Source: Google

Comment:

  1. Justin says:

    As long as they drive predictably and use their turn signals when changing lanes, they’ll be head and shoulders over many drivers out there. Hopefully they’re smart enough not to plow into the back of motorcyclist waiting at a stop light. Certainly in 300,000 miles they must’ve encountered that problem already.

  2. Mike Deiznutse says:

    I second that. I just lost a good friend to a drunk driver last week. The driver hit him from behind at 100mph. Probably said “oh I never even saw him”. Anyone can drive better than some of these people.

  3. Westward says:

    What about bicyclist ?

  4. Spektre76 says:

    Yeah moar texting while driving, lol.

    This is the proverbial nail in the coffin for taking responsibility for your actions. “Oh officer it wasn’t me who hit the rider, it was my cars fault”.

  5. Richard Gozinya says:

    It’s probably for the best, most people are shitty drivers anyways. And if the capability to properly program them is there, then they’ll be a lot safer for us to share our roads with.

  6. anti says:

    Agree with above, poor driving standards on the road, this has to be better in principle.

    Additionally, I have always wished that it would be mandatory for drivers to have to retake their driving test every 10 years for competency reasons. Yet many middle aged people who I discuss this with are horrified stating “I’d never be able to pass it again”.

    Texting on a phone, 1 year instant license suspension. Needs to be done from what I witness every time I ride or drive. I mean they are not even looking at the road WTF! Morons!

  7. Lefty says:

    I think NASA’s latest success says a great deal about the coming era of autonomous/semi-autonomous machines. I’ll join the chorus of “all for it” as I’ve been rear-ended 3 times in the last 5 years. Once at freeway speed and twice in stop and go traffic. Luckily I was in my truck during each instance.
    The high speed offender and one of the others openly admitted to using their phones during the incidents … The third, a 17 y/o claimed otherwise; probably for fear of losing the car/phone privileges.

  8. anti says:

    Ironically as cars become safer, the safety statistics stack up against motorcycles and thus bringing more scrutiny on us.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I, For One, Welcome Our Self-Driving Overlords – http://t.co/WTsrJlqO #motorcycle

  10. Alex says:

    “However, with motorcycles being highly dynamic entities on the motorway, e.g. the rapid changes that motorcycles make to their lane-position, vehicle speed, and proximity to other vehicles, a commuting alongside motorcycles could pose a problem for automated systems…”

    So, the argument is that motorcycles might be difficult for a fully automated vehicle to account for because they cut cars off, break the speed limit, follow too closely and split lanes? (The only legal element being lane splitting).

  11. smiler says:

    1. Should not be implemented on any Volvo. 2. Any biker falling foul of a google car should still be able to shout at the passenger. 3. Fortunately it will never be implemented ion motorcycles. The reason for driving is as much to get from A to B as to enjoy getting there. Another tehnological leap that increases safety but reduces humans to spectators in their own lives.

  12. Campbell says:

    “Another tehnological leap that increases safety but reduces humans to spectators in their own lives.”

    Damn straight. At some point, someone is going to have to fix the problem with this “life” thing – it always leads to death.

  13. Ryan says:

    I don’t know where you live, but driving for many Americans is a mundane necessity. Do you complain that the dishwasher “reduces humans to spectators in their own lives”? Reducing the risk for accidents by automating the cars of people who hate driving and aren’t good at it can ONLY be a good thing. @Alex, I think you’ve wandered to the wrong blog.

  14. Doug says:

    unreal to all of you that want to solve the problem of distracted driving with something like Google Cars.

    It’s dreadfully ironic a phone operating system company is spending time & money on this when they could be leading the charge to make distracted driving go away. Law Enforcement is not the most effective way to defeat distracted driving. Inoperable phones when behind the wheel is the only effective means to stop senseless injury & death.

    I can’t wait to get rid of my Droid.

  15. tat2gaz says:

    surely these google cars are programmed to detect and react when, say a pedestrian crosses the road? if this is the case, i don’t see why it wouldn’t be able to detect a motorcyclist or a bicyclist as westward was asking.

  16. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    Doug, I go rid of my smart phone, a Droid, well over 2 years ago. A novelty that didn’t improve my life.

    I am in full agreement, it is easier for the government to mandate that all new phones and automobiles must be able to talk to each other so that the phone is inoperable, except for 911 calls, while within a specific proximity of the driver seat.

    Cars and phones starting from 2014 should all have this and any attempt to defeat it would render the vehicle inoperable.

    Seems easy enough to me.

  17. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    Also, a contraption that resides on the roof of the google car creates a ton of drag, reducing fuel efficiency. CARB would never allow it as it means more pollutants.

  18. adam s says:

    saw this system in action on a British science show. when you see how many parameters this system measures, and how many times a second it processes those parameters… it is truly astonishing. and to think it is forever vigilant. Its vision is never obstructed by the rim of a coffee mug, its brain power never irritated by factors like work or other bad drivers, it never tires, and its lasers see farther than the human eye at night.

    I feel the system as i saw it is a better driver than I for a good portion of the time i spend behind the wheel… and I’m a hell of a lot better than most.

  19. “3. Fortunately it will never be implemented ion motorcycles.”

    Unfortunately, I suspect that our freedom to ride could very well disappear with the advent of automated vehicles. A likely progression would be adoption of automation as an option, followed by mandatory implementation. Vehicles unable to be piloted by automated systems would simply not be allowed on public roads anymore.

    Think it won’t happen? Driving/riding are privileges, not rights. If there’s more money to be made in outlawing something than preserving it, you can kiss it goodbye. So, you’d better pony up and start paying attention to your liberties. Any time the guv wants to reduce a few rights here there in the name of , worry about it or, better, DO something about it.

    1984 became a reality a while ago.

  20. Bah – my faux markup got deleted, so let’s patch it up a bit:

    “Any time the guv wants to reduce a few rights here there in the name of — insert seemingly good idea here — worry about it or, better, DO something about it.”

  21. Alex says:

    @ Ryan: Definitely on the right blog.

    However, I wouldn’t choose the basis for my caution of safety against something to be its possible conflict with my illegal activity. That won’t win any friends.

  22. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    Self driving cars will surely make it easier to aim and reload.

  23. Doug says:

    Adam S – take mass transit

  24. Bob says:

    Self driving cars — toys for rich nerds at google. It’s a matter of time before a software bug rears it’s head and someone dies. Then, so much for Google’s “do no harm” mantra.

  25. Singletrack says:

    I’m torn on this one. While I believe that autonomous cars will be safer for motorcyclists (and probably everyone), compared to unpredictable humans, I deep down feel that it’s not acceptable to give up my right to privacy and self control.

    Why can’t governments in N.A. just agree that proper driver training is required? Extensive training is required for any endeavor in life – except the two most dangerous – driving and raising children.

    The conspiracy theorist in me agrees with Trane Francks – its a slippery slope from optional to mandatory.
    But I guess Big Brother is already happening – my location can be tracked pretty closely already, based on cell phone signals and purchasing habits (and gmail usage).

    And usage (GPS) based vehicle insurance will be the leading indicator of how fast the change will come. Do you want your insurance company to know where, when and how fast you travel in your private vehicle? It seems many people don’t care, as long as they can pay less.

    I would prefer if better transportation options were available to those unwilling to pay attention.

    What if an equivalent amount of money was put into rail and electric bus networks that touched every residential area? If 25% more people could commute with public transit, the road network wouldn’t be overstressed. But we’d have to redesign our suburbs and then Google wouldn’t be a part of every day life. dumb idea :(

  26. “Do you want your insurance company to know where, when and how fast you travel in your private vehicle? It seems many people don’t care, as long as they can pay less.”

    This is an important couple of sentences. There will be a push for insurance companies and law enforcement to have real-time access to GPS data to catch/charge violators and adjust their premiums accordingly. Fully automated vehicles, of course, will be governed such that they will not operate above the posted speed limit. All done in the name of safety to protect the fear-driven masses, costing Joe Average dearly in terms of $$$ and freedom. And making the 1% hideously rich.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with being hideously rich. Just sayin’. :)