Yamaha is working on a motorcycle with power steering.
Yamaha Power Steering Motorcycle – Overview
The too many rider aids available on today’s motorcycles would have been puzzling even a decade ago.
Still, Yamaha‘s latest addition could be a game-changer, offering an extra layer of safety and allowing for a rethink on steering geometry.
Yamaha’s electronic power steering (EPS) will be used in the All-Japan Motocross Championship for the first time on the works machines this year, but the system is employed on a range of bikes.
It’s a relatively small setup, but it’s computer-controlled means there’s a lot of room to expand its capabilities.
You might be wondering why power steering is even necessary. After all, a traditional setup doesn’t require enormous biceps for day-to-day riding.
However, for motocross, the most apparent aspect of the concept makes more sense; anything that may lessen rider weariness is a plus.
However, lowering the effort required to turn the bars is only one part of the system.
It also functions as an active steering damper, absorbing external forces, so you don’t have to wrestle with the bars to keep them pointing in the right direction.
Again, motocross is a rigorous test of the concept, but it may be helpful for road motorcycles and other racing.
The power steering uses magnetostrictive torque sensor technology from power-assisted bicycles to figure out what you want it to do.
These torque sensors are used on e-bikes to detect when you’re pedalling and how hard you’re pedalling, delivering that information to a control computer and interpreting the amount of electric assistance required.
It does the same thing here, but with the bike’s steering. Again, because EPS can distinguish between the rider’s deliberate inputs and undesirable environmental forces, it can enhance stability without sacrificing responsiveness.
The system opens up a world of possibilities.
For example, because of the artificial stability it provides, bikes can be designed with steeper steering head angles and less trail, resulting in more excellent steering without the risk of instability and tank slappers.
In the same way, that modern fighter planes are intrinsically unstable to the point that they can’t be flown without the aid of computers, a future motorcycle may be designed with steering geometry that wouldn’t be possible without EPS.
Similarly, increased trail, which would typically result in overly heavy steering, might be implemented with the help of power assistance to make it feel light.
Simply put, the system has the potential to free designers from the constraints imposed by the current trade-off between stability and responsiveness.
The technology also means that the steering may be linked to the IMU, traction control, and cornering ABS, resulting in a holistic stability control system that controls the throttle, brakes, and steering, all significant rider inputs, to assist prevent accidents.
Yamaha’s MOTOBOT robot rider system has already demonstrated that computers can ride a motorcycle around a track.
The power steering system displayed here is the final piece of the puzzle in translating that knowledge into something that can be used on a real-world motorcycle.
Yamaha isn’t the only company working on systems like this.
Auto-steering systems are also used in Honda’s Riding Assist concept bikes, and BMW showed off a self-riding R1200GS in 2019.
Bosch, the world’s largest provider of motorcycle ABS, IMUs, traction control systems, and radar systems, is working on a similar technology that may be made available to everyone like their other safety systems.
Yamaha’s power steering has been examined.
Clever but simple: The entire arrangement is remarkably tiny, and it doesn’t necessitate any significant changes to the bike’s frame, forks, or headstock. As a result, it should be simple to implement. “Equip EPS on numerous motorcycles to provide a wide variety of riders with increased motorcycling fun, safety, and comfort,” Yamaha says.
Computer control: The computer calculates the amount of steering torque you want to apply and transmits the appropriate amount of power to an actuator ahead of the steering head, which turns the front wheel.
Staying on track: If external forces try to move the front wheel – for example, bumps – the system recognizes that the command did not come from the bar inputs. Therefore the actuator resists the movement and acts as a steering damper.
Feeling the force: The magnetostrictive torque sensor measures the energy you apply to the bars and sends that information to a control computer.
Time for perfection: There’s still a physical link between the bars and the front wheel, just like automobiles with power steering, so you don’t lose control of the system fails.