It's not easy to stand out among the crazy concept cars at the Tokyo Motor Show, but with a motorbike-riding robot, that is exactly what Yamaha has done. The company has built a droid capable of riding its superbikes just like a human.
Called the Motobot, it interacts with the bike just like a human, twisting its wrist to control the throttle, squeezing the clutch, changing gear and hunkering down behind the windscreen like it's Valentino Rossi. Motobot won't be competing for a place on the Moto GP grid just yet, as it needs a pair of stabiliser wheels to stop it tipping the bike over, but this is only the first iteration.
Yamaha believes that future models will be able to lap race tracks at more than 120 miles per hour using completely unmodified bikes identical to those it sells to customers. The Motobot has been developed to help Yamaha as a testbed for rider safety and support systems. Instead of using human riders to test unknown and potentially unreliable prototype safety equipment, Yamaha can employ the Motobot to ride hundreds or even thousands of test miles before humans get involved.
Taking a slightly weird turn, a video featuring the robot includes it telling Rossi that it "was created to surpass you" in the high-pitched voice of a child. It adds: "I am improving my skills every day, but I am not sure I can even beat the five-year-old yo. perhaps if I learn everything about you, I will be able to catch up...I was created to surpass you."
Bold claims from Yamaha, but it is an interesting project nonetheless.