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.