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San Francisco, CA
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Motorid.in was created to share my continuing adventure and love addiction to all things involving motorcycles. 

Motorcycle News

Yamaha's AI Motorcycle MOTOROiD

Bryan Burnett

Getting the obvious joke of, "I've had with Motoroids before! Just made sure to apply some cream... Those long rides can be hell." out of the way. Yamaha continues to push the envelope of the line between man and machine. MOTOROiD is Yamaha prototype using AI to interpret human gestures and develop ways to "enhance" what a motorcycle is capable of. Before completely dismissing MOTOROiD as another silicon valley buzzword i.e. "AR, VR, AI, Machine Learning"  for the motorcycle industry. Take a moment to appreciate the simplicity of motorcycle design. 

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The concept is capable of self-balancing actuation, has an electric drivetrain and haptic feedback system. The self-balancing is interesting as Yamaha decided to use Active Mass Center Control System (AMCES) that uses the rear wheel in conjunction with the chassis to keep stable. Which differs from Honda's motorcycle that moves the front wheel back and forth to remain upright. Another bit of trick design is using the lithium-ion battery packs as a counterweight, even if they look like a six-pack hanging from the bottom of the bike. 

As for the silly part of the development, the AI "seeing" human hand gestures is really not something I believe most people would ever be interested in. Where AI could be most handy is; imagine you pull up to your favorite cafe, hop off the bike, walk into the building and the motorcycle then departs to find itself a nice place to park. Or say you have a difficult time backing your motorcycle out of a tight space in a garage. It would be nice to walk out to your front yard, hit a button and the motorcycle wheels itself in front of you. 

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Aesthetically I think it's really a beautiful concept, very streamlined and has a nice flow, with a touch of Ghost in the Shell. The hand controls look like they'd be difficult to use, seeing how little leverage there is on the brake levers, but maybe it would be the job of the AI to apply the brakes? The tail of the bike looks neat, but definitely not a practical choice. The most intriguing part of design is when the gas tank and internal combustion engine are removed, the simplicity of a motorcycle reveals itself even more.

It's still early days for AI and the melding of it into our everyday lives, but it does peak my curiosity and I applaud Yamaha for giving it a go. If we don't try we'll never know the true potential of man and machine. I am conflicted with the "overengineered" aspect of tech in motorcycle development. As the great Jeff Goldblum's "Malcolm" quote in the movie Jurassic Park always comes to my mind.

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Part of my enjoyment for 2 wheeled thrill rides is the simplicity, raw input, and being one with the machine. On the other hand, I'm all for enhancements that make riding safer, ABS, traction control, IMU's, etc. Lastly, we can only hope they'll employ a Tamagachi like UI and give us more of a reason to give our motorcycles a pet name.