AI and motor racing with Motobot


Motorcycle racing is a dangerous sport and the testing can sometimes be very risky. The technological and safety measures put in place are not always sufficient to protect riders, especially during testing.

Enter the world of high-technological systems

Thanks to the advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a team of world-class engineers from Silicon Valley recently developed a new tech that will push the boundaries of motorcycle safety. To help in data gathering and vehicle behavior, Japanese motorcycle firm Yamaha recently launched a collaboration through Yamaha Motor Ventures and Laboratory Silicon Valley with SRI International. This saw the design of the whole new level of rider safety assist with the Motobot.

Revolutionizing motor riding safety and testing

The Motobot is the first autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot. It does not only look like a human but rides like one too! The idea behind this was to help very much in the testing and development of future motorcycles and more notably in improving safety in motorcycles. While doing all that, it is aimed at improving better lap times too (without the risk of any human lives).

What makes this project more compelling is that it tries to assess if a robot can outperform the best human motorcycle riders during a race. The Motobot has been created to ride the fastest street-legal bike designed by Yamaha, the YZF-R1M (unmodified). The Motobot was tested on the racetrack every few weeks with the motorcycle and real-time computer simulation. What they got out of it was:

  • The Motobot could achieve more than 200km/h or 124mph
  • Went for over 1,500 miles on the Thunderhill racetrack using only sensors and calculated racing lines during the tests.
  • It did not beat the time-trial set by MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi but the team had a lot of data gathered during the process

While it won’t be anytime soon that the Motobot will be competing in the real circuit, this technology promises a lot of potential and new opportunities for those in research and development, particularly in the motor racing segment. This includes understanding rider reactions better, maintaining control during situations and more so in the development of safety systems.

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