I Am Passionate About Motorcycles
Since I was 12 years old I have ridden motorcycles, they are my passion. It all started back in ’76 when I had a 50% share in a £5 Innocenti 125 scooter – not great off-road! Later I owned a DT125 and have pretty much always had a dirt bike ever since; I broke my neck on one 30 years ago!
I got started on Italian bikes when I was 17 and fell in love with a 350 Ducati, which I still have. As a student I couldn’t afford to buy good ones so I always had to buy wrecks and rebuild them, working my way up to Laverda Jotas and Ducati Mike Hailwood Replicas (MHRs), but always riding a café-racified 850T Guzzi – which I also still have.
I took Up Road Racing
I went to a track day at Donington Park and discovered I could go pretty quick so I took up road-racing; I had some success up to National Level, got sponsored, designed my own bike – and then had kids… If I’d started younger I’d have had a stab at making a career of it but at 28 I figured it better to complete my PhD on Active Suspension Design than take the big career gamble.
My Motorcycle Collection
I’ve still got a bunch of bikes: Laverda Jota, Ducatis 750SS, MHR, 996 and 350 MkIII, Honda CRM250, TabGuzzi racebike and the 850T – the latter is what I ride. I’m not really a modern motorcyclist – I’ve never owned anything with over 110bhp. On the other hand I tend to find that 70bhp is more than enough on most roads.
Having read and re-read MXA and Cycle magazine as a kid I always fantasised about riding in the Californian hills: I got the chance when I landed a job with TRD in Costa Mesa developing their championship-winning CHAMP car engines in the late 1990s.
Autonomous Driving Research
My Involvement With The Heathrow Airport T5 Pod System
But, being a basically ‘green’ person I had some penance to serve after the multi-million dollar excesses of that programme. So, on return to the UK, I took up the challenge of developing a truly sustainable public transport mode with a start-up company – eight years later this culminated in the highly acclaimed and successful Heathrow Airport T5 Pod System, for which I headed the vehicle engineering and autonomous control system design.
The Financial Crash Meant
Unfortunately, the financial crash and subsequent recession essentially destroyed the nascent market and left the company starved of funds, so I left and went to work for the automotive industry once more.
My involvement with Tata Motors Owners Of Jaguar Land Rover
There, I pushed hard to get involved in autonomous driving research. I succeeded and then gave technical direction to their efforts, but when a UK CCAV funding competition gave me the opportunity to turn my attention back to motorcycles, I took it. Starting my own company, bidding for – and winning – funding to add to my own investment. That was a great day.
Dr Torquil Ross-Martin, AutoRD Limited founder and CEO