Las Vegas, Nevada - With a wave, Kinji Asamura summoned a riderless motorcycle to his side at the Yamaha booth at the Consumer Electronics Show this week.
The concept electric motorcycle, called 'Motoroid,' then balanced in position, holding its place even when Asamura tried gently to push it over. It 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 the help of a psychologist, Yamaha spokesman John Boreland said, to gently squeeze a rider's lower back in a sort of reassuring caress at potentially dangerous high speeds, Boreland said.
Nearby, a robot that might seem suited for a futuristic action film was astride a production model Yamaha superbike that it had ridden at speeds topping 200km/h on a test track.
'Human beings react a hell of a lot quicker'
The robot-ridden Yamaha motorcycle, called 'Motobot,' is fast but blind, relying on pre-programmed routes. Lessons learned so far from the research model include that "human beings react a hell of a lot quicker," according to Boreland,
Flesh-and-blood riders have also proven better at grasping the courter-intuitive notion of counter-steering and leaning through turns, he added.
Glancing from one two-wheeled creation to the other, Boreland said: "The motorcycle is the recent past and the Motoroid is the future. The object is to see what lessons can be learned to connect machine to human more effectively."
"Somewhere along the line, this will all meld together so you'll 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.