Yamaha’s Motobot was one of the bigger announcements to come from 2015, with the motorcycle riding humanoid robot promising to garner Yamaha a great deal of information about several key industries, as well as some headlines along the way.

Showing off the Yamaha Motobot at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Yamaha has made public a very ambitious schedule for Motobot, for the coming years. The most daunting task from Yamaha? To have Motobot making laps on a race track by 2017, at over 200 km/h (125 mph).

Yamaha calls this Phase 2 of the Yamaha Motobot development plan, and says that the “the sophisticated technologies acquired in achieving the high objectives detailed here are also intended to be applied to advanced technologies and rider support systems in the future, as well as other options that may segue into new business development.”

That’s business-speak for, “we’re going to learn some cool stuff, to make some cool stuff even more cool.” More seriously, when the Yamaha Motobot debuted, we argued strongly about how important this project was for Yamaha, and for the motorcycle industry as a whole.

As a refresher, those items were: 1) The Yamaha Motobot project eclipses Honda’s ASIMO robot project in objective; 2) Motobot gathers extensive knowledge about rider dynamics; and 3) The Yamaha Motobot is a step towards autonomous vehicles.

Yamaha must have agreed with our analysis, since it specifically lists our last two items under “Future Possibilities MOTOBOT Will Create” – and as for the first item on our list, going head-to-head with Honda, it should be of note that Yamaha is making this announcement at the largest consumer electronics show in the world, CES. Consider my ego sufficiently fanned.

As for riding around the race track, Yamaha plans to upgrade Motobot with a suite of sensors (GPS, IMU, etc) that will help it know where on the race track it is, as well as what is happening to the machine it is riding. Motobot will of course also be collecting data on itself.

Yamaha also plans to add learning capability to Motobot, so that the humanoid robot can learn while on the race track, and thus begin to pick its own racing lines, and push the physical boundaries of the motorcycle’s capabilities.

Yamaha says that this will help them visualize data about human motorcycle operation, deduce the relationship between rider input and machine behavior, and then use the resulting know-how in developing vehicles for creating even greater Kando – Yamaha’s core philosophy of making better experiences through better machines.

In essence, Yamaha is creating a robot, that can ride a motorcycle, which can learn how to ride faster and faster. Sarah Connor was right.

Source: Yamaha

  • MrDefo

    At first I couldn’t conceive of an autonomous motorcycle, but the more I think about it, the more it seems plausible. I mean, if we as riders relinquish control, we’re just weight on the bike. With a little practice we could learn to shift our weight when needed, or perhaps the machine can account for us just sitting there. Just as autonomous cars alleviate the concern I have for elderly and/or impaired drivers, so too could this feature help those who like to drink and ride, and perhaps those who aren’t quite ready for a trike.

  • Keith

    Yamaha engineers heard on the way into work one day: “Can you believe we get paid to do this…I can’t believe they bought into your proposal…I must be dreaming….pinch me Takuya”

  • BBQdog

    Nice. In a few years we will have a new MotoGP class with only this sort of guys and EVERYTHING is allowed.

  • Superlight

    I disagree totally. Motorcycles are all about the ride – for a rider exercising control, not abdicating machine control to some robot. Unlike cars, motorcycles are mostly ridden for fun, not transportation.

  • Campisi

    There’s a place for motorcycles in the autonomous vehicle space. Not everyone replacing their car with a robo-driver will want to surrender personal ownership via sharing programs, so as long as you’re enclosed and not doing the driving why not have the vehicle self-balancing on two wheels instead of four?

  • Superlight

    “Have the vehicle self-balancing”? Get real. Maybe we can get Yamaha to design a robot to propel my bicycle as well.

  • Campisi

    Self-balancing vehicles are quite common, hoverboards being a cheap and rudimentary example. Simple physics keeps your bicycle self-balanced above a certain speed. In the context of an autonomous vehicle, “not falling over” would hardly crack the top five technical challenges involved.

  • Superlight

    Just because a technology exists is not a good reason to deploy it. Leave the autonomous “experiments” to automobiles.

  • Campisi

    Think of it this way: autonomous vehicles are great for motorcyclists, yeah? Getting all of those inattentive, angry, tired, and drunk drivers behind the wheel of a robot much less likely to run you over? Now imagine a good portion of those autonomous vehicles are a quarter of the size. A two-wheeled autonomous vehicle would grant their owners many of the quantifiable benefits of riding a motorcycle while simultaneously granting motorcyclists most of the upsides of a more bike-heavy traffic makeup.

  • MrDefo

    While I agree that riding a motorcycle is about the ride, I’m thinking more about someone who enjoys his ride to a bar, then drinks himself under the table, and instead of wobbling around and wrecking, this helper bot will take him home safely. I’m not proposing that they eliminate human input.

    As someone mentioned below, keeping the motorcycle upright at a stop is actually not that hard to achieve. There’s an enclosed motorcycle that is at least in the prototype stage that uses a large metal pot-shaped hunk of metal as a gyroscope.

  • tony

    drink and ride indeed. what will your bot be doing while phase 1 of intoxication stage is underway? guarding the door? cruising for chicks? watching chappy on the dvr inside his head? will he then proceed to hold your hair back once your puking later?

  • Shinigami

    You need to get yourself to Vietnam, Thailand, Istanbul or Caracas, bub.

  • Superlight

    Why would I do that and what does it have to do with autonomous motorcycles?

  • Calypso

    Because you said the following: “Unlike cars, motorcycles are mostly ridden for fun, not transportation.”

    Not sure where you reside,but only in North America, the UK and, possibly, some Euro Zone countries is a moto ridden ‘just’ for fun. If you have traveled the globe, you will know that for a great majority of citizens, a moto or scooter is their primary source of transport.

  • Shinigami

    Yes, this. More people worldwide motorcycle out of necessity than for pleasure.

  • XFA

    It’s matter of time when MotoGP will be replaced with robots, no more human drama, robodrama on track, the teams will construct robots than will have different personalities, all is possible. scary but possible.

  • Superlight

    OK, Yamaha is using robots to discern how to improve the man/machine interface. That’s fine, but let’s leave it at that for “autonomous” riding.

  • durandal1

    In order for a bike to correct a rider’s bad input, it needs to know what the right input would be – the the pinnacle of this “truth” is bike that could be run autonomously. We already have this in limited form in the shape of traction control and ABS which basically just corrects incorrect application of throttle and brake. Beside being harder to get right, there’s no reason a bike shouldn’t correct bad handlebar input as well.

  • John

    Motobot’s ability to generate rider input seems too limited.
    Doesn’t remotely look like it can hang off and knee slide.
    Good luck trying to push the physical boundaries of the motorcycle with it.
    Would’t a motion tracking system of a real rider be more helpful in acheiveing the objective?

  • exstrat

    ROFL, maybe the should’ve used this money on QA’ing the R1’s before releasing them to the public and loosing all profit for the year because of a drive train problem.

  • crshnbrn

    As long as this new class will still have human umbrella girls to keep the robots circuits from overheating in the mid-day sun while on the starting grid, I say bring it on.

  • hagios ouranos

    While thinking about this article and reviewing the comments, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

  • D

    so basically the motobot will show you a way to let you ride around a racetrack without being a Rossi or a Marquez.

  • Starmag

    Holy crap this is stupid, Yamaha must be making too much money. We apparently cant get to our robotic overlord terminator future fast enough. A automaton to ride my bike for me. Whee. A.I. for the win! Not.

  • spamtasticus

    This will not eliminate racers but will almost certainly eliminate test riders. Stoner better get some rides in soon….

  • Ryan McDonnell

    I don’t really give a damn about robot-motos, just think it’s cool they shot the video out on the Alameda Naval Base.

  • BBQdog

    Agree. And nobody will complain about Marquez/Rossi like actions only encourage them.

  • crshnbrn

    If/when that time comes, I’m rooting for Lore.

  • +5 pts for a subtle Star Trek reference.

  • “Riding your bike for you” is really not the point of this.

  • I’ve spent a lot of time out that way, so it brought a smile to my face too.

  • Bingo.