Motorcycle racers beware – Yamaha has created a new humanoid robot designed to imitate the very human action of riding a motorcycle. The Motobot, as it’s called, even has to twist the throttle to accelerate, and although it isn’t ready to enter races against humans yet, Yamaha hopes that the robot will eventually blast past 120 miles per hour on a racetrack. For now, however, Motobot is still running on training wheels to maintain balance and avoid toppling on corners.
Don’t give up on your racing dreams quite yet though — at the moment, Motobot is intended as more of a safety bot than a race contender. Because the robot is designed to mimic all the physical and biological processes of a human rider on a standard racing bike, Yamaha hopes that Motobot will help track safety protocols and support systems, supposedly as they issue new bike releases and power-heavy features.
Motobot features six actuators that allow it to control the bike in a way very similar to how a human rider would. It’s required to autonomously control steering and throttling, the front and rear brakes, the clutch, and the gearshift pedal. In addition to its humanoid exterior, Motobot runs on an internal data analysis system that processes information from sensors on the robot and in the motorcycle. Feeding on that data, Motobot can steer in proportion with speed, engine function, and changing conditions of the track ahead.
Yamaha’s long term plans for Motobot suggest that future versions will be equipped with machine learning capabilities. With an artificially intelligent system, Motobot will be able to complete more complicated racetracks and will be able to improve its performance as an actual contender beyond the novelty of a motorycle-riding robot. The machine learning edge will allow Motobot to make autonomous decisions based on other riders and track conditions, in combination with motorcycle performance data in real time.
Even though Yamaha is focusing on the safety features and the spectacle for now, it’s not being shy about Motobot’s racing aspirations. The company has called out racing legend Valentino Rossi in its promotions, and hopes to prove Motobot’s skills in a head-to-head race.
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