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Yamaha's Motorcycle-Riding Robot Pitted Against MotoGP Rider

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【Summary】The Yamaha Motobot is a humanoid robot build specifically for motorcycle racing. See how it fares against professional driver, Valentino Rossi.

Mia Bevacqua    Nov 04, 2017 6:30 PM PT
Yamaha's Motorcycle-Riding Robot Pitted Against MotoGP Rider

Riding a motorcycle isn't easy. Many people can't master the act of balancing under acceleration. Yet, Yamaha's new Motobot has it down pat. Motobot is a humanoid robot, designed specifically for riding Yamaha motorcycles. 

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Motobot might be a better rider than you

Instead of integrating the bike and ‘bot into one, Yamaha decided to leave the motorcycle unmodified. This means the robot is rides the bike just like a human driver – hunched over from the top. 

To get the job done, Motobot controls actuators for the steering wheel, throttle, brakes, clutch and shifter. The robot can tell where it's going using inertial measurements and advanced GPS. It calculates what to do and keeps the motorcycle stable, just like a rider from the MotoGP Series. 

Well, maybe not quite. Motobot recently lost in a race against MotoGP racer, Valentino Rossi. But that doesn't mean the robo-rider isn't better than a lot of motorcyclists you see streaking down the 405 freeway. 

In a straight line, Motobot can hit 124 mph according to IEEE. It can also remain stable at speeds as low as 9 mph – a challenge in its own right. During the race against Rossi, Motobot's lap time was 117.50 seconds compared to the humanoid's 85.74 seconds. 

Are robot-drive motorcyles limited to the race track?

Chief executive of Yamaha, Hiroshi Saijo, explains the company chose to build Motobot as a challenge. Also, there's an industry-wide drive to add autonomous features to commercial motorcycles. 

And of course, there's nothing cooler than a motorcycle-riding robot. 

In some ways, however, Motobot is a less ambitious goal than a self-driving car. A motorcycle that's built for the track doesn't have to deal with the complications of public roads. It doesn't have to worry about reckless pedestrians and road-raging drivers. It just cuts corners around a pre-mapped track. 

The Motobot project began three years ago, according to article from Popular Mechanics. By 2020, Yamaha hopes to add some of the robot's autonomous features to its lineup of human-piloted motorcycles.

So, you won't see a motorcycle-riding robot on the freeway any time soon. But you may be able to purchase a bike that augments your riding abilities – and that's something every flesh and bone driver will enjoy.


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