Home » Yamaha Unveils Self-Riding Handlebar-Free Motorcycle With The Worst Seat I’ve Seen In A While

Yamaha Unveils Self-Riding Handlebar-Free Motorcycle With The Worst Seat I’ve Seen In A While

No Handlebars
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Back in 2017, Yamaha rolled into the Tokyo Motor Show with one of the weirdest motorcycle concepts you’ll ever see. The Motoroid was basically a self-balancing bike that a rider wore like a coat and operated with a haptic system and triggers. This year for the Japan Mobility Show 2023, Yamaha brought an updated version of the bike out and it’s somehow even crazier than before. The Motoroid 2 is more like a Pokémon than a motorcycle as it can detect its owner, move around on its own, and it’s apparently supposed to feel like you’re riding a living thing rather than cold metal. If you’re as confused as I am, let’s look at this together.

The Tokyo Motor Show is entering its 51st edition and 69 years of existence; nice. If you haven’t noticed already, the big change for this year is the name itself, as the event is now called the Japan Mobility Show. This reflects a change in the show’s content. Where you used to see the latest cars and coolest concepts, the Japan Mobility Show, running from October 26 through November 5, is now about just about anything that moves. Car, motorcycle, and commercial vehicle manufacturers will be present, as will tons of parts suppliers and companies making eVTOLs, a flurry of RV manufacturers, and more.

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Yamaha is bringing a lot of concepts to the Japan Mobility Show. The list is impressive and includes rocking chairs, a hydrogen-powered side-by-side, a robot arm, and Tricera three-wheeler (above) that’s like a Polaris Slingshot with rear-wheel steer. Don’t worry, Yamaha’s provided no actual information to go along with the trike other than saying that it’s supposed to be a “back to basics” machine.

Of all of the concepts, the wildest is definitely the Motoroid 2.

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The Original Motoroid

Before we continue to the newest iteration of the Motoroid, the original cannot go without mention. I could describe the press releases and whatnot, but I’ll just let Yamaha do the talking. Take it away!

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“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 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.

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Yamaha stated in its presentation that the Motoroid represents a possible future where motorcycles have advanced well beyond their current state.

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Yamaha says the original Motoroid was built around Jin-Ki Kanno, or the “seductive exhilaration” one should get when straddling a machine. That is one way to describe why many folks love motorcycles.

At the heart of the original Motoroid is the aforementioned AMCES. This system uses the battery as a large counterweight, and the motorcycle’s frame itself rotates to control the motorcycle’s center of gravity. Yamaha says that like an animal, the Motoroid will swing its frame out to pick itself up, then return to center, but maintaining balance. The motorcycle will be sitting perfectly upright and can then retract its own side stand. It’s a bit freaky to watch:

This machinery is combined with an AI-driven facial recognition system that allows the motorcycle to identify its owner and its owner’s hand gestures. That introduction video also shows the bike rolling around by itself.

The horribly tiny seat also has a haptic contact point that covers most of the rider’s back. Yamaha says that this is for “someday providing a physical link to enable non-verbal communication between rider and machine, like the rider’s minute movements and behavior being detected and responded to by the bike itself.”

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In other words, it’s supposed to be a motorcycle and basically a pet.

Motoroid 2

Yamaha is returning to the show with a refined version of the Motoroid. The Motoroid 2 now looks sleek and more like something you’d see in the movie I, Robot rather than an anime like the previous version.

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The Motoroid 2 follows the same concept as the first as it can lift itself off of the ground and balance itself. In this press release, Yamaha hypes up how the motorcycle could follow you around. This sounds great for instances when you’ve stuffed your bike into an impossibly tight space, but I can’t help but picture the Motoroid 2 being your jogging buddy like a dog might be.

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AMCES makes a return here and works the same way as the old Motoroid, but now it looks more refined. The AI-powered human recognition system is also there. What is new is what Yamaha says is a new Leaf structure, something not found on any other motorcycle, and is designed to give the rider lifelike feedback when they’re riding the machine. Yamaha doesn’t elaborate any further about this, but maybe it’s supposed to feel like you’re riding an animal?

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I’m also not entirely sure how you’re supposed to ride this thing. The original Motoroid clearly had a seat and a pair of video game flight stick-style grips for you to hold. I see a pair of handles on the Motoroid 2, but the seat is even worse than before. Yamaha shows the cowling open and there’s no seat in there or room to slip in a human body, so it would appear that you would basically lay on top of the Motoroid 2. That’s assuming the little tail area is a seat, and if it is, oh my. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more uncomfortable seat in the history of motorcycling.

There are no bars and the grips are hard-mounted, so there doesn’t appear to be a way for you to physically steer it. Perhaps that’s what all of the haptic stuff is supposed to be for. You communicate with the motorcycle and it responds.

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Since the Motoroid 2 is just a concept machine, there are no details about what’s underneath. The motorcycle is propelled by a hub motor and it has a bank of batteries, but Yamaha isn’t specific about power ratings, capacities, or chemistry. Still, the Motoroid 2 is fun to look at.

If you’re lucky enough to go to Japan at the end of the month, you can catch the Motoroid 2 at Yamaha’s display. Meanwhile, I’ll be here wondering how a motorcycle that feels like an animal would be to ride.

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(Images: Yamaha)

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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

“I can’t help but picture the Motoroid 2 being your jogging buddy like a dog might be.”

Or your hunting buddy, only YOU’RE the one doing the retrieving:

https://media.techeblog.com/images/boston-dynamics-robot-dog-submachine-gun.jpg

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

My motorcycles (and my bicycles) go where I want them to go, without ever having to think about steering them. Maybe I unconsciously lean a bit towards where I’m going.. The beauty of two wheeled vehicles 🙂
Using some energy to keep it upright, when I’m not on it, is a bit more useful, but not much…

James Davidson
James Davidson
9 months ago

MOTORO iD

Expect a trademark infringement lawsuit from VW for those last two letters. If not from VW, one could come from CARiD.com. So much to look forward to.

Greg
Greg
9 months ago

Oh lord, there was a video game I played as a kid that had these exact things, can’t think of the name though. I remember really having fun with it.

Also, these things are fun concepts but I can’t imagine the repairs, or a ride more than 2 minutes.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Oh Lord won’t you buy my Mercedes a clue? My friends all love her so they won’t to her be true. She loves her some bikes and I do too. But if she buys one of these she us most likely through.
Sorry M I have seen several inventions using the same technology. First the Segway. Going to reinvent personal transport. Yeah it made for some great video laughs and hospital trips but so bad it’s gone. Then we have the monowheel as dangerous as the Simpson monorail but only kills the driver. Supposedly self balancing only worked in MIB2?

Gubbin
Gubbin
9 months ago

Self-riding motorcycle? That’s as useful as a self-licking ice-cream cone!

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
9 months ago

I can’t help but picture the Motoroid 2 being your jogging buddy like a dog might be.”

cue the My Buddy song:

My Buddy™ (My Buddy)

Wherever I go, he goes

My Buddy™ (My Buddy)

I’ll teach him everything I know

My Buddy and me like to climb up a tree

My Buddy and me are the best friends that could be

My Buddy™ (My Buddy)

My Buddy and Meeeee!

Goblin
Goblin
9 months ago

First the bike with no rider, next – the bike with no buyer.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
9 months ago

There’s a truckload of WTF here starting which hallucinogenic substances the design team used. Next is the whole idea of no handle bars, while I suppose a gyro system like a Segway might work at low speeds vehicle dynamics change at around 30mph making the steer/countersteer switch very important. This reminds me of the “Tesla bicycle” some graphic designer thought that also used fixed handlebars and a haptic tech to steer. This was doomed to fail because it overlooked the slight instinctual countersteer movement bicycle riders make before turning.

Strangek
Strangek
9 months ago

That’s creepy as hell.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
9 months ago

It doesn’t need a useful seat cause there is no point in a riderless motorcycle anyway, haha. Really though just a concept thing, for some reason having a seat is no longer cool in motorcycle concepts.

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago

This is amazing, I missed the V1, even that, wow. As far as ergos as a lot of concept stuff goes, it’s all about the style, production motorcycles rarely have as aggressive styling or ergos as mock ups or sketches. As any experienced rider knows, you can steer a motorcycle by just applying pressure to one foot peg, I suspect the same “body english” applies here, sport bike riders all instinctively shift their body weight entering a turn, proportional to the speed/radius. I can see how this type of vehicle could actually be instinctive, if initially unnerving. Unnerving at least because there are no movable handle bars, I’m sure it will take some time for riders to stop pushing to turn.

Ben Trueblood
Ben Trueblood
9 months ago

Does Bridgestone actually make a tire called Battlax?

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Trueblood

yes

Ben Trueblood
Ben Trueblood
8 months ago
Reply to  Black Peter

Thanks. Does anybody ever wield one when they go to battle, or is it just a name?

Black Peter
Black Peter
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben Trueblood
Leonardo Bacigalupe
Leonardo Bacigalupe
9 months ago

Finally, Japan jas brought us the hentai-cycle, it was about time

Ben
Ben
9 months ago

Jin-Ki Kanno, or the “seductive exhilaration” one should get when straddling a machine.

So Jin-Ki Kanno is “giant vibrator” in Japanese. Got it. 😉

I have little interest in an autonomous car based on existing AI tech, I have even less interest in an autonomous bike that will send me head first into the back of a bus if it fails the “pick all the images with a road” CAPTCHA test.

In fact, now I want to see a Wile E. Coyote test for all autonomous vehicles to see how they handle a wall with a tunnel and road painted on it. 🙂

Fortunately, this seems to be an exercise in futurism dreaming about a day when AI is good enough to trust your life to, not something they’re actually planning to build. In that context I have no real problem with it.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

In fact, now I want to see a Wile E. Coyote test for all autonomous vehicles to see how they handle a wall with a tunnel and road painted on it.

Let’s be honest. Plenty of humans would fail that test.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
9 months ago

Let’s be honest. There’s plenty of humans that shouldn’t be allowed to drive on public roads.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
9 months ago

Filed under ‘Some weird stuff happens in Japan’ .

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
9 months ago

So full disclosure, I just sat through one of the most cringey sales pitches I have ever heard, I hung up feeling like I need a shower, so that’s where my head is right now. With that, this whole thing just read as a bunch of buzz words that say nothing. I think it looks dumb, would be unrideable, and they said absolutely nothing. I hate everything about what Yamaha is doing here. The idea might be cool, but I can’t find it in there. I don’t need a mechanical pet that I can ride thanks.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
9 months ago

This seems like a lot of effort to invent a slightly more literal iron horse.

It is cool, though.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
9 months ago

This is insane, but I wish there were more projects like this. Aside from this being fun to develop, I’m sure they learned things that no one ever would in the process of building something people actually, you know, want.

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago

I agree, I missed the v1, so this is all new to me. Fascinating, it’s the first real revolution in motorcycles in… a century?

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
9 months ago

Well now, this is just silly.

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago

Tricera three-wheeler (above) that’s like a Polaris Slingshot with rear-wheel steer.

It would be funny to work in a completely innocent statement like “… the Tricera tops the list”.

And agreed, that seat looks awful and will probably give the rider Motoroids.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

COTD material, right here!

05Mil Machine
05Mil Machine
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I came here to say something about that name….its bad

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Well, if it ever goes into production, you can start a business making aftermarket roofs for it.

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago

😀

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