Drones used to be these hyper futuristic devices that felt more like the Marvel Cinematic Universe than they felt real. These days drones are nearly as ubiquitous as microwaves. They deliver stuff, photograph, and film, and even put on spectacular light shows. The dirtbike and dual-sport worlds have really taken a shine to the films or folks ripping huge air with the drone following by a few feet. Now Honda has announced that it is working on one that will live in your bike and pop out when you need some follow footage. It’s so futuristic it hurts.
The Honda drone is gonna be rad
According to Cycle World, Honda’s research and development department has filed a patent application for a proprietary drone that mounts directly to your (Honda) motorcycle. Although this is clearly still a ways away, the basic idea is a typical quadcopter that mounts to a designated spot on the rear portion of the extended frame.
Sounds normal so far, right? Wrong. This minicopter is meant to be fully autonomous and follow the bike until it either needs to recharge or is called back by the rider. This is clearly very cool, but how many people really need this?
What do people use drones for?
Drones have become really popular in a variety of uses. They are probably most commonly used for things like photo and video production. It is a much cheaper and simpler option for shooting really wide, high-up views when in the past, helicopters were the only way to get such shots. Drones have also started being used as delivery mules in some major cities. This has yet to be widely adopted, but only time will tell.
Honda itself doesn’t seem overly confident in what a motorcycle-mounted drone would be used for outside of this purpose. According to Cycle World, Honda mentions a possible other use for the drone other than photos and videos could be to fetch and deliver fresh batteries for electric bikes. This doesn’t seem super realistic when we think about how heavy batteries are against a drone’s size that can fit on a motorcycle.
Honda has a better answer than battery delivery
Cycle World Reports that Honda has offered a more realistic and useful plan for the drone. Honda says riders could use the drone as a traffic surveillance unit. The drone could fly ahead and see what traffic and general road conditions are like and report that information back to the rider in hopes of avoiding dangerous curves or traffic jams.
The drone can even act as a communication relay if the rider is in a crash. In the unfortunate event that a rider is hurt and unable to call for help, the drone will send a call to emergency services for help. Honda even says the rotors can help the bike remain cool while docked. Now that is a smart use of a drone.
This is very cool, but none of it seems all that novel
As Cycle World points out, drones, communications technology, and of course, the motorcycle are not anything new. With that in mind, what exactly is Honda patenting? Well, Honda says the main point is the mechanisms that allow the quad-rotor device to fold up small enough to be stored in the bike. Upon flight, those mechanisms have to unfurl, allowing it to whiz off into the sky.
If Honda mentions flying in fresh batteries wasn’t a good enough hint, the patent drawing might serve as another. The simple patent drawing clearly shows the drone flying out of an EV sports bike. It is unclear if Honda was being hypothetical here or showing a peek behind the curtain. I guess time will tell.