Do Robots Dream of Electric Speed? Yes—& World Domination

Watch out, Rossi; Yamaha’s new MotoBot is terrifyingly Doctor-aware.

Unveiled yesterday at the Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha's "MotoBot" is a motorcycle-riding robot that—other developing talents aside—is already a boss at demonstrating an enviably compact tuck and at using a childlike creep-voice to evoke simultaneous feelings of affection and alarm.

Fortunately, said 'bot (which comes complete with a whole crew of very serious-looking Yamaha engineers) isn't likely to turn its laser-eyeballs on us mortals anytime soon; it's entirely focused on "improving my skills every day" to "catch up" to one man: Valentino Rossi. And while fear is rarely a useful reaction to new technology, if MotoBot's "I was created to surpass you" declaration doesn't make The Doctor's skin crawl a bit, its habit of apparently traveling with Rossi baby pictures probably/definitely should.

Yamaha’s statement on the Motobot: "This is an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot built around a fusion of Yamaha's motorcycle and robotics technology. R&D is currently under way with the goal of developing the robot to ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at more than 200 km/h. The task of controlling the complex motions of a motorcycle at high speeds requires a variety of control systems that must function with a high degree of accuracy. We want to apply the fundamental technology and know-how gained in the process of this challenge to the creation of advanced rider safety and rider-support systems and put them to use in our current businesses, as well as using them to pioneer new lines of business."

Will humans ride faster if pursued on-track by fleets of MotoBots? Dunno (though I would), but one thing’s for sure: We’ll always have more fun.

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Motobot concept.Yamaha Photo

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Motobot concept.Yamaha Photo

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Motobot concept.Yamaha Photo

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Motobot concept.Yamaha Photo