It’s easy to dismiss the Yamaha Motoroid concept as ridiculous gimmick, but just hold the snickering back for a second, because it could be far more important than you might first think.
It looks as if it runs on three, AA batteries and could well be a prop from the new Bladerunner movie, but the Motoroid concept from Yamaha – due to be publicly unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show – is more than just a crazy, student design exercise.
Here’s what Yamaha themselves say about their future vision,
“In order to bring people new experiences of Kando,* this experimental machine employs artificial intelligence and explores the feasibility of concepts for creating new forms of personal mobility in which the rider resonates harmoniously with machine. MOTOROiD’s development concept was an “Unleashed Prototype,” and it is capable of recognizing its owner and interacting in other capacities like a living creature. By undertaking these kinds of development challenges, Yamaha is aiming to acquire technology for creating new value for our customers.
*Kando is a Japanese word for the simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value.”
So what does that mean exactly?
Well ignoring all of the Kando references, whilst Yamaha use this a lot as their mantra it’s not especially useful for us regular punters, it’s hard not to see the Motoroid as an extension of the self-riding Motobot concept of a few years ago. In fact, alongside this release the Japanese firm are also touting the announcement of the results of that Rossi vs Motobot race that they promised back when the riding robot was first announced.
If you look carefully at the image of the Motoroid though you’ll see that it’s got a seat, handlebars and a solid set of brakes, so this isn’t a purely autonomous motorcycle – or a cute ‘pet’ as some commentators have likened it to – but rather it’s a machine built for riding and interacting with.
Yamaha say that it’s ‘capable of recognizing its owner and interacting in other capacities like a living creature’. Imagine now Honda’s self-balancing technology coupled with Yamaha’s Motobot riding abilities and what do you get?
The Yamaha MOTOROiD is essentially an on-demand, robotic, ride-able animal. Yamaha have effectively invented a horse on wheels.
So why is this important?
Well, mainly because at the moment we’re entering an entirely un-mapped future of autonomous vehicles, vehicle to vehicle communication and entirely connected machines, and nobody really knows how this is all going to work out. So if Yamaha are looking towards the future and what all of these technologies combined are going to look like, then it’s amazingly pleasing to see that they’ve still decided to consider the role of the rider in this equation. The Motoroid may be a lot of things, but it’s clear that one of the things that it is intended to be is a motorcycle that can be ridden.
So imagine having your Motoroid ready in the garage for you, connected to your home and your personal devices, fully aware of your movements, your plans for the day and your immediate needs. Unlike John Wayne you wouldn’t even need to whistle for your steed to come out to the front of the house because it will already know and be able to ride around to meet you. Then you hop on, safe in the knowledge that the bike has enough intelligence to keep you as safe as possible whilst still being able to enjoy the thrill of the (relatively) open road.
Suddenly those Westworld dreams don’t seem so far fetched. And we – for one – welcome our new Motoroid overlords.