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Yamaha's 'Motobot' can autonomously drive a motorcycle

Yamaha's 'Motobot' can autonomously drive a motorcycle

Engineers at Yamaha are working on a robot that can ride a motorcycle without human assistance.

The 'Yamaha Motobot' will be able to perch on top of an unmodified motorcycle and control the throttle, brake lever and pedal, clutch and transmission, as well as steering left and right. It's fully autonomous, equipped with systems that can control complex motions at high speeds.

That's the goal. Right now, it's less impressive - requiring humans to help it get moving from a standing start to a fairly slow pace. Eventually, however, Yamaha says it'll be able to ride around a track at more than 200 km/h.

High Degree of Accuracy

To do that, it'll need some pretty complex systems. "Controlling complex motions at high speeds requires a variety of control systems that must function with a high degree of accuracy. Meaning, one wrong move and this robot's a goner," wrote Jamie Wisniewski at engineering magazine ECN.

"I am MOTOBOT. I was created to surpass you," the robot said in a slightly creepy video message addressed to star rider Valentino Rossi. "I am improving my skills every day but I am not sure I could even beat the five-year-old you. Perhaps if I learn everything about you, I will be able to catch up..."

Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.