Back in 2015, Yamaha Motors set out with an ambitious objective: to create a robot that is capable of beating around the race track one of the greatest motorcycle riders of all time, Valentino Rossi.
Along the way, the Japanese manufacturer would learn a limitless amount of information about how motorcycle racers achieve the lap times that do, and Yamaha would then be able to quantify one of the great mysteries in how to make a motorcycle go faster.
With the Motobot project born to achieve all these goals, Yamaha now two years later has pit its creation against their factory-back MotoGP racer, and the results are very interesting.
Two years ago, Yamaha set out on an ambitious adventure: to create a motorcycle riding robot that can ride a motorcycle as fast as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, Valentino Rossi. Besides being a solid PR stunt, the development of Motobot brings with it some seriously powerful technology and insights into one of motorcycling’s great mysteries: rider dynamics. With a machine the is capable of replicating human inputs on real-world motorcycles, Yamaha can improve its breed, both on the street, but also on the race track. Now, the Japanese firm (with help from its Californian subsidiary) is just about ready to show us the results of its head-to-head matchup between Motobot and Valentino Rossi, but first it wants you to guess the results.
I am of the opinion that Yamaha’s Motobot program is perhaps the most significant undertaking going on in motorcycles right now.
I’ve already explained why Motobot means a tremendous amount to the furthering of technology in robotics and autonomous vehicles, and how it will help explain the complexities of rider dynamics, so I won’t rehash it further.
Needless to say though, I am excited to see this plucky blue robot in action on a race track. So, consider my interest piqued when I saw Motobot being promoted for next month’s 45th Tokyo Motor Show.
But, I might be more intrigued by how Yamaha is promoting Motobot’s appearance in Tokyo…
Towards the end of last year, I spent some time bumming around Italy, and one of my many stops was the Dainese headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. A company that is responsible for protecting many of the top motorcycle racers, as well as Yours Truly, Dainese is a company focused on safety, but this focus is really a bi-product of the Italian company’s thirst for competition.
Competition is of course about finding out who is the best, and at the pinnacle of that decision is finding out who is the Greatest of All Time, or G.O.A.T. And in motorcycle racing, when you think of the term “G.O.A.T.” two names come to mind: Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.
Motorcycle racing fans can debate well into the night as to which of these Italian racers is truly the greatest. Regardless who you pick though, both men are legends, and both men have been supported throughout their careers by Dainese.
That brings us back to my trip to Vicenza, because the battle between these two great riders continues, just not in the way you would suspect.