Yes it is true that Yamaha is developing a robot that can ride a motorcycle, but reports that Yamaha is planning to have a self riding motorcycle available by 2026 may not be all they seem.
A report from the Financial Times this week says that Yamaha Motor is aiming to bring self-driving technology to motorcycles.
But Yamaha Chief Executive, Hiroyuki Yanagi, says he does not envision a fully driverless motorcycle.
“Our current target is how to assist the rider,” he said. “The rider can focus more on safety if the machine handling becomes autonomous and artificial intelligence can be used for course selection.”
And while rapid progress is being made in the development of autonomous cars, the Chief Executive thinks it will take at least a decade to bring the same technology to two-wheelers on a commercial basis.
The erroneous reports seem to have been inspired by Yamaha’s recent $2 million investment in American start-up company Veniam which is developing connected vehicle technology.
Yamaha has a development division – Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory – based in Silicon Valley that is investigating connected vehicle and autonomous technologies.
This is the same division involved in the development of MotoBot, Yamaha’s motorcycle riding robot.
While Yamaha’s new technology would eventually filter down to motorcycles, in the short term it is more likely to find it’s way into Yamaha’s third big attempt to break into the car market.
Yamaha aims to launch a two-seater commuter vehicle in Europe as early as 2019.
The entry into four wheel vehicles stems from Mr Yanagi’s desire to create revenue boosting businesses beyond motorcycles and boats.
The company showed its Sports Ride Concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show last November.
The car was developed with the help of South African engineer Gordon Murray, who is the man behind several dominant Formula One cars and the legendary McLaren F1 supercar.
Yamaha is reportedly investing up to $20 million in the new technology, a modest amount compared to the $1billion Toyota has planned to invest.
Hundreds of Japanese companies that have established a presence in Silicon Valley and the surrounding Bay Area.
But consultants advising Japanese groups say they are often slow in making investment decisions, and many have flooded into Silicon Valley without a clear idea of what kind of technologies they are looking for.