Apparently not content to field a fleet of four-wheeled autonomous cars, reports are floating in that the Internet giant has petitioned the State of California to allow the testing of autonomous motorcycles, as well. The team at Google, apparently led by engineer Anthony Levandowski, has designed and built a riderless motorcycle cleverly called Ghostrider that is capable of traveling to a predetermined destination without a rider.

According to Visordown, Ron Medford, the director of safety for Google's self-driving car program, wrote a letter to the appropriate officials in California, suggesting that the tech company wants to test alternative forms of autonomous transportation. "It is certainly possible that future testing could include motorcycles or larger commercial vehicles," he said. "If some innovator can demonstrate that testing autonomous technology on such vehicles is safe, then they should be allowed to test."

Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, however. Earlier in the year, Levandowski's personal home was targeted by a group of activists calling themselves the Counterforce. A non-violent protest was staged at his private Berkeley residence due to his work for Google's autonomous driving and mapping programs.

We're not quite ready to anoint Google as the real-life Cyberdyne Systems or its self-driving technology the real-world Skynet, but we are watching its autonomous programs – be they two-, four- or 18-wheeled – with interest. Moto-Terminator, anyone? Just kidding... mostly.

UPDATE: For more on the specifics of what Google is trying to do – namely, get the legislation changed so that it doesn't preclude any specific vehicle types, not necessarily building its own two-wheeled drones – check out this article from Jalopnik.


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  • 13 Comments
      Hek!
      • 4 Months Ago

      Autonomous... motorcycle? Noooo thank you. 

      Scooter
      • 4 Months Ago

      How does it balance itself at stops? The whole thing seems kind of silly. Let's just handout bus passes and focus on alternative power sources instead of this silliness. 

        jodie88
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Scooter

        big heavy gyro... and yea it is totally silly, but think of this as just a research project. It should not be viewed in the same way as their autonomous car project. At least I don't think it should be. Theoretically it is totally possible to make a safe self driving motorcycle... but it doesn't seem practical.

      Muttons
      • 4 Months Ago

      If you fall asleep for a moment in an autonomous car, your going to be OK.  Same can't be said for a motorcycle.  There is absolutely no benefit to the rider of an autonomous motorcycle.  None.  You still have to do all the same stuff, but now you just have no control.  Stupid idea not thought through.  

      Now a COMPLETELY autonomous motorcycle with no rider whatsoever used as an automated courier service and such could be interesting.

        Bernard
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Muttons

        As a delivery vehicle for military uses maybe.

        Not that I think Google would do that, this is probably just a research project.

      Peter Middleton
      • 4 Months Ago

      uhhhhh

      Andre Neves
      • 4 Months Ago

      So glad these companies are spending millions researching technology EVERYBODY's asking for.


      :-/ no

      BipDBo
      • 4 Months Ago

      Sometimes Google does stuff without ever asking, "Why?" but rather just because they can do it.

      Knox
      • 4 Months Ago

      Why hasn't there been more work with 18 wheels? 

      That appears to be the best business case. Fifty thousand dollars isn't that expensive when you are replacing at least two drivers for over-the-road. 


        Fodder
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Knox

        There is less interest in seeing driverless 80,000 pound vehicles out there then driverless 4,000 pound vehicles.

      Sushma Gupta
      • 4 Months Ago

      I really like reading this useful and informative blog for me. Thanks a lot for sharing the blog.

      jcwconsult
      • 4 Months Ago

      There would be advantages to testing driverless vehicles with such a motorcycle.  If the software screws up, it won't likely hurt people in a car or larger 4 wheeled vehicle.


      James C. Walker, Life Member - National Motorists Association

      bll
      • 4 Months Ago

      WHY? It's pointless

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