Ever since he was a child in Japan, Soichiro Honda had a love for automobiles. Working his way up from a garage repairman to supplying parts for Toyota, he eventually founded his own automotive company more than 70 years ago. When Soichiro first founded Honda, he had only 12 employees working out of a tiny shack building motorized bicycles. Today Honda is one of the most profitable automobile companies. Since 1959, Honda has been the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. By the end of 2019, Honda had produced more than 400 million motorcycles.
Honda currently offers 12 different motorcycle models. Each year, upgrades are made. Most of these upgrades are small adjustments as with any motorcycle or car manufacturer. However, Honda recently released that they had been granted a patent for an entirely new motorcycle concept. The bike itself is not all too different than the motorcycles they have available, other than the fact that it is an electric motorcycle. The difference is that it is jumping on the bandwagon with one of the fastest growing technology trends of the last few years, drones.
As more and more people begin to recognize their impact on the environment, a desire to leave behind a smaller carbon footprint has grown. This has led to a huge increase in sales of electric and hybrid vehicles, including motorcycles. As of yet, Honda only has hybrid vehicles, but the specs from the released patent reveal a motorcycle that is battery operated with a drone platform on the rear. Honda has yet to provide concrete information on the electric drone toting motorcycle. Based on the drawings the drone would dock in a specially designed station on the bike’s extended tail. It would be a fully autonomous drone that responds to vocal commands.
One possible use Honda alludes to for the drone would be to fetch a new battery if the bike’s one loses a charge. This is a bit of a weak explanation though. The idea of a drone going off to collect a battery, then returning to the rider just doesn’t fit in with the direction of regulations. Besides, most riders would make sure to have a fully charged battery and a backup on hand if need be. It is also hard to imagine a drone that is small enough to fit on the back of a motorcycle being large enough to transport said motorcycle’s battery. A more likely explanation as to how a motorcyclist could benefit from an onboard drone stems from safety concerns.
Each year thousands of motorcyclists are killed in accidents. In most situations, a rider has only a few seconds to make a life saving decision. A drone that can fly ahead of a motorcycle can serve as a traffic assist device. If the drone spots a possibly dangerous situation where the rider is approaching, it can relate this information back to a headset worn by the rider. This could potentially give the rider enough time to plan evasive measures. Still, a far-fetched concept considering how the drone regulation industry is moving.
Perhaps the most logical use for a drone equipped motorcycle is simply recreational enjoyment. One new trend in drone technology is Follow Me drones. First introduced by DJI in 2015 as a feature with the Phantom 3, a Follow Me drone can be programmed to literally follow your live actions. A route can be uploaded to the drone’s computer or it will track a Bluetooth connection to autonomously keep up with a subject on the ground. For some motorcyclists, this could add a new element to their rides, a way to look back on what they saw as they cruise along.
Whether or not Honda will put into production a motorcycle that pairs with a drone is yet to be seen. It is a pretty safe bet that they will be releasing an electric motorcycle in the future, but that doesn’t mean that it will come with a drone. Companies notoriously apply for patents on ideas that they never intend to act upon. This way if the opportunity of a drone that can autonomously launch, fly along with, and return to a motorcycle is ever a possibility, Honda will have ownership over the concept.