Robots Take on Racetracks

Manufacturers often bring celebrities from motor sports to auto shows to glam up the booth and offer photo ops. Yamaha brought a racer to the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show this fall, one who had the audacity to challenge one of the winningest motorcycle racers in the world, Valentino Rossi. “I was created to surpass you,” said this cheeky racer in a video. The thing is, the racer is a blue plastic humanoid robot with actuators instead of muscles and tendons. Yamaha engineers want to first get Motobot, as they call the rider, to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in a straight line on a regular motorcycle—throttle, clutch, and all. Then they’ll teach him to corner and run a slalom. Then, they’ll turn him loose on a racetrack, where Motobot’s machine…


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