Fairly recently, self-driving vehicles have made an entrance into our society. With companies like Google, Tesla, and BMW pioneering this new trend and cultural desire, Yamaha decided to add its own flavor into this field. Motobot, as Yamaha calls it, is developing a “humanoid robot” that can ride a motorcycle on its own. The way that Yamaha’s Motobot differs from Google’s or Tesla’s self-driving car is that it is aimed at having the robot drive an unmodified motorcycle, and maybe a car in the future, as opposed to an internal computer operating a modified car.
The Motobot is still in its developing stage, but Yamaha is striving for it to be better at driving than humans. According to the video they released, it can already reach over 100 kilometer per hour and over 6,600 revolutions per minute. They obviously don’t plan on stopping their progress here. Yamaha wants it to be able to lap a racetrack going at least 200 kilometers per minute by 2017. Although Yamaha has not explicitly mentioned that the Motobot will be used for anything other than racing motorcycles at high speeds, one must consider the implications if they were to expand this to everyone.
In the hypothetical situation that the Motobot could be used to drive unmodified vehicles, one downside is if the general public feels unsafe with having a robot operate their vehicle. However, this concern isn’t unique to Yamaha, as this conversation has happened with the discussion of other self-driving vehicles. It can be unnerving to allow a robot, a foreign object to most, driving your vehicle, and potentially putting your life at risk. What if it short-circuits or malfunctions? On the other hand, humans have bad days as well and are obviously prone to mistakes, so the validity of that argument is still up for debate.
If this project does expand to the point when the Motobot can make its own decisions on how to get somewhere the fastest, this could be a very important step forward for humanity. If Motobots became somewhat easily accessible to everyone, our everyday lives would change drastically. People wouldn’t have to get a new self-driving car. Instead they could get the Motobot system and it would drive the car they already have. Motobot could make transportation faster and more efficient, thus increasing our capabilities. We would spend less time in the car and in traffic, which would reduce CO2 emissions, and also allow us more time to work and spend time with our family.