Valentino Rossi has met Yamaha’s self-riding Motobot in this official video from the Japanese manufacturer who plans to have an automated self-riding motorcycle available within a decade.
In the video, Valentino watches the Motobot cut some laps and then goes out and shows the robot how t’s done, providing the Yamaha engineers with vital data.
It is planned that Rossi will actually race the robot in 2017 and the Yamaha engineers believe they will be able to beat his lap times on several race tracks around the world.
Motobot is a robot that rides a specially equipped R1 motorcycle with outrigger wheels so it can stop and not fall over.
The project is being developed with SRI International, one of the world’s leading R&D centres.
Most car companies are already testing self-drive cars and believe they will have them available for the market in the next few years.
However, Yamaha chief executive Hiroyuki Yanagi says it would take at least a decade before autonomous technology was available on a commercial basis for motorcycles.
“Our current target is how to assist the rider,” he said. “The rider can focus more on safety if the machine handling becomes autonomous and artificial intelligence can be used for course selection.”
Yamaha has invested of up to US$20m in a Californian company working on autonomous vehicles, robotics and drones and in February, invested US$2m in a US start-up called Veniam for its connected vehicle know-how.
Technological rider intervention is already available with ABS brakes, dynamic suspension adjustment, traction control and emergency braking assistance.
So far, only ABS is being considered mandatory in some countries, but it is only a matter of time before these hi-tech rider intervention systems become compulsory.
One day, autonomous riding may also be mandatory.
Meet Rossi in Misano
Meanwhile, Rossi fans can meet their hero on a Yamaha VIP trip to the Misano Grand Prix in September.
The eight-day tour (September 6-13) visits Rossi’s hometown of Tavullia and his VR46 training ranch as well as excursions to the Lamborghini and Ferrari museums.
Of course, there is also three days of VIP hospitality at the Misano Grand Prix.
It’s not cheap, though, at$6299 per person (twin share) or $6899 per person if you want a separate room.