Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Whoa: "Yamaha's Humanoid Robot Ride a Motorcycle Around a Racetrack"

From IEEE Spectrum:
Yamaha has just put a humanoid robot on one of its motorcycles and pitted it against Valentino Rossi, a professional rider. The robot didn’t win, but it’s amazing that it could ride at all.

What’s striking is that the bike is unmodified: the robot is a hunched-over form on top. It senses the environment, calculates what to do, keeps the bike stable, manages acceleration and deceleration—all while factoring in road conditions, air resistance, and engine braking.

The project is “a moon shot,” says Hiroshi Saijo, the chief executive of Yamaha. They chose to do it because it is hard. But it’s also part of an industry-wide drive to incorporate autonomous features into commercial motorcycles to make them easier and safer to ride.

For instance, Yamaha’s bike can remain stable at speeds as low as 15 kph (9 mph). But that’s nothing compared to Honda’s latest feat, an all-electric concept called Riding Assist-e, which can stand up when moving at a snail’s pace and even when at a dead stop. It works rather like a Segway, balancing itself with tiny motions of the wheels. Kawasaki is taking another route by developing an AI voice-response system similar to Siri, both to help the driver stay abreast of the situation and to let the AI monitor the driver’s attentiveness....MORE