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Motorcycles: The Science, The Folklore and Going Fast – UJ

September 5, 2019

The South African Council for Automation and Control will be hosting an evening talk on the modelling and optimal control of motorcycles in closed-circuit racing.

The lecture will start with a brief review of the history of bicycle and motorcycle modelling. This will include such things as design evolutions, modelling developments and methodologies, and the importance of tyre and frame dynamics (especially for motorcycles). Some of the interesting control features of two-wheeled vehicles will also be discussed.

The subtleties relating to the ability of bicycles to “stay up” or self-stabilise has given rise to several bar-room myths. Many people think this ability to “balance” is due to gyroscopic influences. Another theory is that selfbalancing is due to “trail”. Both are untrue. One also hears talk of “shimmy”, “tank-slappers”, “fish-tailing”, and “death wobble”; all are used to describe vehicular oscillations of some kind. Some interesting video will be used to cover these aspects of the lecture.

The last part of the lecture will deal with closed-circuit motorcycle racing and the solution of the associated optimal control problems. To validate modelling assumptions relating to the minimum-time optimal control problem, a comparison will be made between simulation results and track telemetry data. The vehicle used in the experimental work is representative of a 1000 cc, 4stroke, production motorcycle (World Superbike class). The tests were conducted in a private test session with a professional test rider. The minimum-lap-time handling properties of the vehicle will be analysed.


September 5, 2019