ananthu_kurup

75 months ago

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Making a robot ride a motorbike: The future of Yamaha's Motobot

Willows, California, United States

The motobod project is a partnership between Yamaha and CRI International

The motobod project is a partnership between Yamaha and CRI International

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, two buzz words from the tech world that has been changing the way many tasks are accomplished in our modern society. Now, these forms of computing are coming into the world of motorcycling, the latest advancement being in the form of a robot that thinks it can challenge MotoGP racers.

I am talking about Yamaha’s Motobot project, which aims to build a robot that can control a motorcycle with the finesse of a professional racer by combining Yamaha’s know-how in the field of motorcycling and industrial robotics. The robot uses 6 actuators to control an unmodified motorcycle as it goes around a racetrack, which is quite an impressive feat as the robot has to perform human-like operations with equal precision and dexterity to achieve its goal of riding the motorcycle.

Getting so close to the lap time of a world champion is no small achievement

The robot rides a totally stock Yamaha YZF-R1, one of the best superbikes on the planet. What better way to test the real world performance of this robot than to pit it against 9 times Grand Prix world champion Valentino Rossi? That’s exactly what Yamaha did, and while the Doctor might have won the race, the robot came impressively close to the lap times of Rossi.

Rossi lapped the track in 85.740 seconds; the robot took 117.504 seconds to complete the lap, which might seem like a large gap for the world of motorcycle racing, but is in reality just what Yamaha set out to achieve.

Rossi is a key contributors to this project, helping the engineers with valuable insight

Rossi is a key contributors to this project, helping the engineers with valuable insight

The aim wasn’t to beat the best rider in the world but to learn more and adapt the technology to help other riders, keep them safe and even transition to other kinds of vehicles. Yamaha says that “From this project, we will be able to 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.”, with kando referring to a Japanese word with no literal translation to English. It means something that inspires the heart and spirit.

Yamaha MOTOBOT 2 vs. Valentino Rossi

This is a glimpse of the endless possibilities that the future holds

The possibilities are endless and it has me excited about what the future of motorcycle electronics hold. This kind of development could bring us a better understanding of what the human inputs do to the dynamics of a motorcycle, test new electronics, and even help develop new and more radical riding styles that would help the MotoGP aliens ride even faster.

Motobot 2.0 is an autonomous robot designed to race a motorbike at high speed (Credit: Alamy)

Motobot 2.0 is an autonomous robot designed to race a motorbike at high speed (Credit: Alamy)

While many will say that it will eventually dull down the riding experience, I feel that motorcycling has to evolve for it to survive. The racing techniques themselves have changed so much over the decade and even with all the electronics, motorcycles are far from boring and slow. Research such as this lead to faster and safer machines. As I like to tell my friends, I would prefer a red light telling me that I was giving it too much throttle at the corner exit, versus the nurse telling me the same a week later after I regain consciousness at the hospital.

Is this the way of a Moto-Terminator salvation?

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Grecoair

75 months ago

Let’s race ‘em!