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Yamaha MOTOROiD Living Motorcycle Experiment

Yamaha's MOTOROiD experiment in living machines and self-balancing motorcycles is still amazing, even after a few years.

“MOTOROiD, stand up!” As if waking from a slumber to respond to the call, the machine’s chassis gyrates and slowly brings itself up off its sidestand to stand upright on its own. With a beckoning gesture or call from the rider, MOTOROiD moves forward, and sometimes rotates its chassis to snake left and right as if engaged in a friendly frolic with the rider. Despite being a human with a machine, the scene looks more like a dog—albeit a very large one—and its owner going for a leisurely stroll, with a sense of intimacy and mutual trust.

The show visitors crowded around the stage were mesmerized by MOTOROiD and their imaginations likely began to run wild: “In the not-so-distant future, we may actually see motorcycles become this advanced.” It was a showstopping sight at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017.

The primary technologies comprising MOTOROiD are an image recognition AI system for recognizing the rider’s face and gestures, Yamaha’s exclusive AMCES (Active Mass Center Control System) self-balancing technology, and a haptic human-machine interface (HMI) that wraps around the hips and is aimed at fostering non-verbal communication between rider and machine.

Each of these cutting-edge technologies were already being developed independently before MOTOROiD, and the original mission given to the design team was to create a design for the exterior covers of the testbed vehicle for these technologies. The request was for “a machine that looks and acts like a living creature.” It was this idea that would eventually lead to the creation of MOTOROiD as an entirely new kind of vehicle.

(Via Yamaha Motor

Science fiction fans may remember the smart bike in Bruce Sterlings 1998 novel Distraction (click through to read more of the great ideas from this book), which he describes as having onboard steering and balance systems.

Norman, as always, drove like a maniac. Norman was young. He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems. He rode the bike with an intense lack of physical grace, as if trying to do algebra with his legs.

...[they] buzzed up along the road shoulder, the smart bike and sidecar scrunching over the oyster shells with oozy cybernetic ease.

Update: 29-Oct-2022: See also the characteristics of Sally the automatabile from Isaac Asimov's 1953 story Sally to see the same behavior in a car.


(Automatobile from 'Sally' by Isaac Asimov)

End Update.

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