MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has accepted a challenge from Yamaha’s humanoid robot motorbike racer Motobot, which hopes to beat the human champ on a race track in 2017.
In a video released by Yamaha, the driver is seen impressed by the driving abilities of the Motobot hurtling around a track while a Yamaha engineer explains the goals of the project.
The engineer explains that the robot, fitted with intelligent sensors to detect its surroundings and conditions, can drive the motorcycle completely autonomously without any additional human input.
“Motobot uses various sensors to detect its surroundings and current conditions to turn and ride by itself, so it does all the thinking and all the action on its own,” the engineer says.
“We are working hard on making Motobot capable of driving at 200km/h on a track by 2017.”
The engineer then challenges Rossi to sign Motobot’s helmet to show he is accepting the robot’s challenge to beat him on a race track.
Yamaha first unveiled the robot in the autumn of 2015 during the Tokyo Motor Show. The Rossi video is a sequel to the original film. The driver admits that he couldn’t believe it when he first saw the clip.
Motobot sits on the motorcycle in the same way as a humanoid driver would do and controls the motorcycle from the same perspective without any modifications being made to the motorcycle itself.
Yamaha Motor is collaborating with American non-profit technology research institute SRI International on the development. The firm said knowledge gained from the project and the technology developed will be used to enhance its products and improve motorcycle safety.