Printed spare parts
3D printing technologies are advancing so rapidly that teams will soon inevitably have such printers in place of a warehouse full of spare pieces. The greatest setback presented by these systems today is the time it takes to produce printed pieces, but it is hoped this will improve as the technology is developed. The possibility of designing and manufacturing just about any motorcycle component at the track also opens up a wide range of options in terms of tailor-made solutions. The technology’s adaptability will eventually demand that the technical team rely on an engineer, tasked with creating these pieces.
Augmented reality helmets are already being used by mechanics and Box personnel at MotoGP. It is reasonable to assume that such tools will eventually reach the riders, who will use these technologies in order to be less reliant on other support elements, such as the electronic notices board. At the moment, all messages between the rider and the Box are regulated and controlled by a single central unit, but this needn’t be the case forever, and we may soon witness a fully open means of communication. When this becomes a reality, all of the information about the motorcycle’s status will be projected inside the helmet instead of on the screen on the control panel.
If open communication with the rider is established, why not take advantage of this to improve retransmission? A helmet camera can be used to have a first-person view of the situation that the public can access to through virtual reality devices. Can you imagine anything more thrilling than experiencing a race from the point of view of Marc or Dani?
Though we do not expect motorcycles operated by human beings to disappear from the competition, a category of remote-controlled vehicles may one day be incorporated into the races. Drones are having a growing impact on the development of vehicles, transportation, and logistics, and being able to place a riderless device on the track has a clear advantage: safety considerations can be put aside to focus on a more efficient performance. Ultimately, if a riderless motorcycle crashes, all parts are replaceable, so why shouldn’t we push it to the limit? This opens up new possibilities, such as more extravagant tracks with loops and leaps.
We can envision a future where motorcycles are controlled remotely, but it is more difficult to imagine one where motorcycles drive themselves. However, it is only a matter of time before a computer is able to autonomously replicate a human being’s performance. Autonomous vehicles are already a reality, even though they haven’t become popular yet. We have already been witness to several prototypes that are operating among us, including competition prototypes. When the time comes, will we see these intelligent machines compete next to riders like Marc or Dani?
Images: Honda Riding Assist-e prototype