Despite the fact that the business side of motorcycling is run by a small close-nit group of curmudgeons, Neanderthals, and Luddites, the world outside of motorcycling continues to press on without us. And while various parts of the motorcycle industry are busy trying to figure out how to adapt to this whole new “internet” technology fad thing (it has only been commercialized for over two decades now guys), the same group of people are busy trying to maintain the same business models and practices that came from the post-World War II economy. In other words, when it comes to technology and the motorcycle industry, we are all pretty much fucked.
I know this whole online journalism thing puts me at the far-end of the progressive spectrum in the motorcycle industry, but the reality is when it comes to new technology adoption there is so much going on outside of the four corners of motorcycling’s world, it makes running a website that talks about motorcycles on a daily basis seem so 2011. Since I like to draw analogies from outside of the motorcycle industry to show my points, take for example Yahoo search. At one point the behemuth-of-the-internet, Yahoo is slowly dying a death of one thousand cuts in its commodity-based business, while competitor Google continues to thrive and grow well beyond its initial critical app of contextual search, and seems forever entrenched in its market position.
Innovate or stagnate, evolve or die, adapt or react…I can keep spitting out buzzword comparisons, but the takeaway comes back to the fact that industries, like companies, need to keep a constant weather eye on the horizon, lest the waters around them begin to storm and swell. Whether we want to admit it or not, transportation is changing all around us. Smaller cars, EVs, and even automated vehicles are already a reality, and are gaining steam. For example, if you are an astute driver of the roads surrounding San Francisco, you likely have already seen Google’s driverless car prowling the streets in an understated not-so-futuristic manner.
The idea of cars driving themselves is certain to be a scary proposition for many, though before someone leaves a Skynet comment (or worse) at the bottom of this post, consider the fact that we already entrust computers with far more important things in our day-to-day lives. Since no one reads online publications, you will read in this weekend’s Finance & Business section of the Sunday paper about how millions of dollars were lost in the stock market because of an automated trading system for gold, silver, and bonds was accidentally tripped, causing a massive selling of those index investments.
While the business of multi-billion dollar transactions are fairly complex mathematically, the reality is, driving a car, flying a plane, and even riding a motorcycle are trivial pursuits — they are so easy in fact, even a human can do them. So, do not be shocked then when I tell you the future of driving is automated vehicles, and their time is nearly upon us.
I submit for your examination a model of the intersection of the future. In a world where cars are in constant contact with each other and ever vigilantly reading the roadways for changes, dangers, and efficiencies, traffic lights will cease to exist…or so say the scientists behind such technologies. While the model above surely looks like absolute chaos, it is the product of a highly-efficient algorithm that takes into account the destinations of all the cars coming to the intersection, and then times and routes them in the most appropriate manner. For futurists, this looks like a symphony, but for motorcyclists it likely looks terrifying.
The question then is which of the following outcomes scares you more as a motorcyclist: giving up the control of riding your motorcycle through city streets, or riding the only vehicle that isn’t tied into the stream of data from the multi-ton vehicles that surround it. This is a trick question of course, because what should really scare you is the fact that the organizations that should be actively involved in developing these systems are the same ones that are still busy spending most of their time arguing about whether or not we should be wearing helmets when we ride motorcycles. I guarantee their are no water-cooler talks at the MIC or AMA about the future of transportation at this level. Like I said before, we are all pretty much fucked.
Source: The Atlantic Cities