As these thing often do, it began simply enough. A press release. If many people noticed they probably ignored it as the release was rather dry. It read:
Yamaha “announced today that it has established Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley Inc. (abbreviated to YMVSV), which began operation on August 5 local time. Based in Silicon Valley, California, this new company aims to conduct theme research and training for new business development, promotion of commercialization, and development of new business models.
But what it has resulted in in a motorcycle riding humanoid robot. This doesn’t look to be a cute little fellow like Honda’s ASIMO. ASIMO runs around, talks to people, plays nice and has a pet robotic dog/lawnmower. Put an apron around ASIMO’s neck and he would likely bake you some cookies – he probably even has an oven attachment just for that purpose. Not so much with Yamaha’s creation – he doesn’t look like he would enjoy a cookie. On the plus side the Motobot (with the voice-over attitude about being better than a human) can’t move his knees or elbows as they are fixed in place. He can however ride a R1M which is pretty fast as bikes go. So if you need to evade Motobot head for some stairs, walk very slowly as he can’t take his feet off the pegs or jump on your dirt bike and ride for the hills.
The purpose for Motobot is not clearly evident. With all the hype about self-driving cars we don’t think the exercise was to develop self-riding motorcycles as what would be the point of that if you had to ride passenger to a robot? Yamaha indicates that Motobot’s purpose will be to explore and gain insight into motorcycle dynamics. Sounds fair enough. Fortunately they don’t mention anything about a robot apocalypse. See Motobot in action here.