Latest patent filings by Harley Davidson suggests that the company is working on a self-balancing mechanism that comprises a high-speed flywheel mounted within a gimbal allowing it to rotate on two axes. The system will only be activated when the motorcycle is in walking speed or lower.
The flywheel is the traditional mechanical gyro, which will spin at upto 20,000 rpm by an electric motor. At lower speeds, the gyroscope will act as a balanced aid. A clutch engages that locks the gimbal’s roll axis to a lever that is in turn connected to a computer-controlled linear actuator. The computer will then tilt the spinning mass laterally creating a force that balances the motorcycle.
The tip sensors on the motorcycle register when the motorcycle begins to lean on one side and the computer and the actuator work against the lean to regain balance.
The new system will be helpful for new riders who have not been accustomed to the weight of the motorcycle. Even if the rider loses his footing, the system will shift the gimbal in the opposite direction to keep the motorcycle upright. This will also prove to be helpful to older riders or riders with physical disadvantages.
Reports suggest that the system is not specific to a single motorcycle. This means that rather than being built into a bike, the whole gyroscope unit and the computer controlling it can be mounted in the top case.