Riderless Yamaha motorcycle summoned with a wave
With a wave, Mr Kinji Asamura summoned a riderless motorcycle to his side at the Yamaha booth at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show last week.
The concept electric motorcycle, called Motoroid, then balanced in position, holding its place even when Mr Asamura tried gently to push it over.
Nearby, a robot that might seem suited for a futuristic action film was astride a production model Yamaha super-bike that it had ridden at speeds topping 200kmh on a test track.
"The motorbike is the recent past, and the Motoroid is the future," Yamaha spokesman John Boreland said.
"The object is to see what lessons can be learned to connect machine to human more effectively."
The robot-ridden Yamaha motorcycle, called Motobot, is fast but blind, relying on pre-programmed routes, according to Yamaha.
Lessons learnt so far from the research model include that "human beings react a hell of a lot quicker", said Mr Boreland.
Flesh-and-blood riders have also proven better at grasping the counter-intuitive notion of counter-steering and leaning through turns, he added.
The Motoroid boasts autonomous features such as balancing on its own, recognising riders and being summoned with a wave.
Wings on the back of the seat were designed with a psychologist to gently squeeze a rider's lower back in a sort of reassuring caress at potentially perilous high speeds, Mr Boreland said.
"Somewhere along the line, this will all meld together so you will be part of the bike and it will figure things out for you," he said of insights and advances resulting from the concept motorcycles, which are not for sale.