Easy rider: humanoid robot aims to outpace Valentino Rossi on the racetrack

Yamaha is using the 44th Tokyo Motor Show to show off Motobot, a motorcycle-riding robot that will one day match MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi for speed and skill around the racetrack.

Under the banner of ‘Beyond Human Capabilities’, Yamaha says it is using its knowledge of industrial robotics and motorcycles to develop Motobot, which will inform future autonomous systems.

According to the company’s website, mechanism improvements, algorithm enhancement through machine learning and other factors required for high-speed track riding will make other types of high-level riding possible.

In the current prototype, Motobot analyses data for vehicle speed, engine rpm, and machine attitude to control its six actuators – for operating the steering, throttle, front brake, rear brake, clutch and gear pedal – when riding an unmodified R1M motorcycle.

Yamaha believe that technology for machine position recognition such as high-precision GPS plus various sensors, and machine learning will be utilised by Motobot to autonomously manoeuvre around a racetrack at the limits of the motorcycle’s performance, so that it can improve its lap times with successive laps of the track.

Project milestones for 2015 have included riding in a straight line at 100kmh, tackling a slalom course and cornering. By 2020, Yamaha expects knowledge and highly advanced fundamental technologies from Motobot to be utilised in new product developments.