A Motorcycle So Smart Riders Don’t Need A Helmet? BMW’s Big Ambitions

There is an old, dark joke in emergency rooms about motorcycles.

“What do you call a person who regularly rides a motorcycle?”

“An organ donor.”

But BMW believes that technology can make that joke an antique and, in fact, make the motorcycle so safe that drivers will be able to ride them without wearing so much as a helmet. The idea is all the thrill of riding a motorbike through the open air — none of the risk of becoming an ink blot drawing on the side of the road.

The tech that will reportedly make such magic happen is called Motorrad VISION NEXT 100, and the concept is a bike that can anticipate where its rider will be looking next and adjust itself to maximize safety. BMW said the Motorrad’s systems will turn their ability to “see” what’s next to offer drivers guidance on what to do to avoid incidents and even step in and take over to prevent anything from happening if necessary.

It also uses a self-balancing system that makes the bike impossible to tip in motion or while standing still.

Drivers will still have to wear a visor — 1) because wind is a factor on a motorbike and 2) because it makes it possible to overlay important information on your view, including anticipated twists and turns. Powering everything is a zero-emission electric drive train.

Now, the bad news is that this concept is still mostly that — a concept — and for the time being, motorcycle gangs will continue to have to balance the demands of safety against the pull of looking maximally awesome.