Will A Robot Beat The Doctor?

So, what does you do when you invent and build a motocycle-riding robot? Apparently, you challenge Valentino Rossi, one of the greatest living motorcycle racers, as it turns out. Yamaha teased the world back at the ’15 Tokyo Motor Show with its MOTOBOT autonomous bike pilot. As epic as that sounds, it’s been a journey of baby steps thus far. First, all the BOT had to do was to do 60 mph in a straight line, negotiate a slalom and learn to take some corners. The engineers have been hard at work in the interim, and while it’s unclear if the BOT has become self-aware yet (Skynet anyone?), it clearly has become self-confident with its whole “I am MOTOBOT. I was created to surpass you” monologue. Yeah, there are plenty of autonomous bikes/boats/cars/et cetera out there right now, but therein lies a major difference; while others are modifying vehicles with robotics, the MOTOBOT seeks to interface with an unmodified R1M using the same controls a human would. OK sure, the actual bike has crash bars and training wheels so it isn’t absolutely unmodified, but it’s close enough.

Continue reading for more on the MOTBOT and the MOTOBOT/Rossi race.

What Does It Mean?

Even if the MOTOBOT doesn't win, the fact that it has the electro-testicular fortitude to call out The Doctor is remarkable.

Thomas Low from the robotics firm SRI had this to say; “We said that somebody your size or my size, our height and weight, can pilot a 747, can ride a bicycle, can ride a motorcycle, can ride a snow mobile. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a robot that could use those human interfaces that are already built into so many millions of vehicles?

That’s a powerfully fanciful slice of pie-in-the-sky there Mr. Low, and I feel safe in declaring on behalf of every motorcyclist around the world that we prefer to drive our own bikes thank you very much! To be fair, that isn’t the point of this exercise. The point is, dear readers, to gather information to be used to develop rider-support systems and features to help human riders avoid accidents. While I’m not sure how all that is supposed to work out, I do know that we will have a progress report at the upcoming TMS that runs from October 27th through November 5th. The factory plans on revealing the results of MOTOBOT’s time trial along with how it stacked up against a lap time from Rossi. I gotta say that even if the MOTOBOT doesn’t win, the fact that it has the electro-testicular fortitude to call out one of the GOATs is remarkable.

Who Will Win?

MOTOBOT Versus Rossi: Who Will Win?
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Roughly 25-percent of the voters think the MOTOBOT has more than just a slim-to-none chance.

Think the BOT will win? Think Rossi will spank it like a two year-old in K-Mart? Don’t hold back; tell us how you really feel, then go to the website to cast a vote for your favorite. Right now, Rossi enjoys a sizable lead (a perspective he’s accustomed to...), but roughly 25-percent of the voters think the MOTOBOT has more than just a slim-to-none chance. Myself, I’ll be surprised if the BOT beats The Man, but I can’t help but be somewhat awed by the whole situation here, and I can hardly wait to see how it all pans out.

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Source: Tokyo Motor Show 2017

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