Multibody dynamics simulation technology can provide a great help to understand and analyze motorcycle dynamics. In fact, its application in this field has grown very fast in the last years. However, apart from the mathematical model of the vehicle, a virtual rider is essential in order to properly simulate a motorcycle. This is due to the unstable nature of two-wheeled vehicles, which makes them very difficult to simulate by using open-loop maneuvers. The problem of developing a virtual rider for motorcycles has already been covered in literature but most of the proposed control algorithms achieved their purpose without considering the physiological limits of the rider. The objective of the research activities presented here are the preliminary development of a realistic virtual rider based on an experimental campaign and its subsequent simulation together with a detailed multibody model of a motorcycle. Special emphasis was put on making the rider model as simple as possible to facilitate the posterior design of the controller. Real rider movements were measured under laboratory conditions by means of the Motion Analysis technique. Several volunteers with different riding experiences, gender and anthropometry were involved in the experiments in order to provide a valid dataset for the analysis. For the present research, the virtual rider controls the direction of the motorcycle by means of both a torque on the handlebars and the movement of his body. The upper part of the rider’s body was modeled as an inverted pendulum. With regard to the longitudinal dynamics, the motorcycle is controlled by means of the brake torques and by the engine torque, which is transmitted to the rear wheel by means of a simplified model of the chain. First results of the developed virtual rider are presented at the end of this paper.

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