The autonomous motorcycle softly creeps in

Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs division just announced a sweeping and ambitious plan to create an entire city neighborhood that would function as a tech lab. The project, in Toronto, will of course serve as a test site for Waymo projects.

 This image provided by Google (and which they've gone to some trouble to ensure looks 'hand-drawn') includes vehicles that look a lot like Google's first driverless car prototypes. There are also lots of bicycles evident. What got HAVstory's attention were references in the press release to things that sound a lot like driverless motorcycles.

This image provided by Google (and which they've gone to some trouble to ensure looks 'hand-drawn') includes vehicles that look a lot like Google's first driverless car prototypes. There are also lots of bicycles evident. What got HAVstory's attention were references in the press release to things that sound a lot like driverless motorcycles.

According to Bloomberg Technology, among others...

Sidewalk said it will tap partners, including Alphabet’s Waymo, to test multiple types of self-driving vehicles in the Eastern Waterfront area of Toronto. It proposed a van with six to twelve seats for low-density transit routes, and "a personal vehicle more like a bike than a car in size."

And...

In the near-term, Sidewalk plans to run a six-to-twelve person autonomous shuttle in the summer in a specific area of Toronto to get residents used to the technology. "Single-person self-driving vehicles might eventually be integrated into an elevated transport system, such as a gondola." 

A few months ago, we noticed that Yamaha was an early investor in Veniam – a company that's already building V2X mesh networks.

 When we finally caught up with Veniam's CEO João Barros, he was in Singapore, where the company has a vehicle network up and running. 

When we finally caught up with Veniam's CEO João Barros, he was in Singapore, where the company has a vehicle network up and running. 

João Barros was circumspect about the work his company is doing with Yamaha, but he spoke of a future in which some sort of self-driving vehicle – "whether it's a motorcycle or some other kind of pod" – would make sense for the purposes of single-passenger on-demand transportation.

Meanwhile Yamaha is teasing us that, at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, it will finally tell us 'who' (or what) is faster: Motobot, or Valentino Rossi? So far, Motobot's pretty much been a PR stunt, but if it can lap a race track as fast as the world's best rider, the proof would go a long way towards giving passengers confidence in fully autonomous two-wheelers.