Watch this Yamaha robot ride a motorbike faster than you can

Yamaha’s Motobot uses autonomous technology that will eventually be on our roads

Curtis Moldrich
29 Oct 2015
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If you thought self-driving cars were creepy, it’s probably best to look away now. Yamaha has just announced Motobot – a brand-new robot that can probably ride a bike faster than you can.

Revealed at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show yesterday, Yamaha described its self-riding humanoid robot as “built around a fusion of Yamaha's motorcycle and robotics technology,” which basically means it's one of the craziest, most advanced things you'll ever see. 

It gets weirder. Yamaha has already put its robot rider on a racetrack, and while we don’t know how fast it’s going yet, the company says it has a target of 200 km/h (124mph). Significantly, Yamaha wants Motobot to achieve those speeds on a completely unmodified bike, identical to one any of us humans could buy at a dealership.

Things get even more worrying in the video. After seeing a picture of seven-time Moto GP champion Valentino Rossi, Motobot says “I am improving my skills everyday, but I'm not sure if I can even beat the five-year-old you.” That’s fine, until it says: “I am not human but there has to be something only I am capable of. I am Motobot. I was created to surpass you.” That sounds a lot like the plot to Terminator doesn't it? 

What’s it for?

While Motobot itself may not be on our roads anytime soon, the technology used in its development could be. In a statement released during the Motobot announcement, Yamaha said “the task of controlling the complex motions of a motorcycle at high speeds requires a variety of control systems that must function with a high degree of accuracy”.

Now Yamaha wants to develop that technology to help humans, and that can only be a good thing. “We want to apply the fundamental technology and know-how gained in the process of this challenge to the creation of advanced rider-safety and rider-support systems,” it added.

Catching up with cars

While the idea of warning systems on bikes may seem futuristic, one look at the car industry shows just how far behind bikes are. Cars such as the BMW 7 Series and Volvo XC90 already use semi-autonomous warning systems to try and prevent accidents before they happen, so Yamaha’s decision to develop the technology for bikes makes perfect sense.

If anything, it’s overdue. Motorbikes offer far less protection than cars, so any way of preventing accidents could save a lot of lives. It looks like Motobot isn’t such a bad thing after all.

To find out how manufacturers are teaching cars to drive, read next: Driverless cars will learn from their mistakes

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