Making Motorcycling Safer

From the Department of Progress, Automotive News has a thinkpiece up about how self-driving cars will make motorcycling safer.

The improvement apparently will come largely from left turns:

This year, about 1,000 riders in the U.S. will lose their lives to the left turns of others. Cars traveling in the same direction as the motorcycle often don’t notice the bike overtaking on the left. Cars making a turn while coming from the opposite direction either fail to see the oncoming bike, or misjudge its speed.

And apparently this is a good time to buy Harley-Davidson stock:

Once every aspiring biker realizes that the driver next to him isn’t an existential threat, sales will climb in some places. Xavier Mosquet, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, said the bike boost will be most pronounced in markets such as the U.S., where people ride for fun, and in China and India, where many choose motorbikes because they are relatively inexpensive transportation.

Conversely, in such places as Europe. where motorcycles are often the best way to avoid traffic, self-driving cars may actually dent sales, according to Mosquet. If all goes as planned, there will be fewer tie-ups or accidents, less rubbernecking, and thus less to be gained by jumping on a bike and splitting lanes of standstill traffic.

Self-driving motorcycles, however, are still quite a ways off. Here’s a visual explanation of why.

In fairness, if I’ve heard Sebastian Thrun tell the story right, the head of that team was Anthony Levandowski, who went on to found Otto and now runs Uber’s self-driving car program. So he’s done well.

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