Yamaha presents bizarre, twisting, self-balancing Motoroid 2
One of the strangest concept bikes in all of motorcycledom has been reworked for 2023. Yamaha has unveiled a second version of its futuristic Motoroid concept, complete with a twisting swingarm, AI facial recognition, and the ability to self-balance.
The company says the Motoroid 2 is an exploration of the question "what will human-machine interfaces actually be like in the future?" The answer, by the looks of things, is "weird."
So what the heck is this thing? Well, an electric motorcycle with a hub-driven rear wheel, that seems a good place to start. But that hub is mounted on a swingarm that runs up to a motorized, pivoting mount point right under the seat that allows the entire swingarm and rear wheel to be swiveled back and forth, effectively tilting independently of the rest of the bike.
Well, not all of the rest of the bike, because it looks like the battery box, slung underneath the central spine of the Motoroid 2, can also swivel, so as to dynamically alter the weight balance of the bike. The swingarm and battery box seem to be linked so they tilt together, in what Yamaha calls an Active Mass Center Control System (AMCES).
The front wheel appears to steer in a mercifully normal fashion despite its chunky, girdery looks ... That is, until you look up at the handlebars and realize they're rigid handgrips, and there's no mechanical connection to steer the front wheel.
It's unclear how exactly you'd be supposed to control this thing, but through a combination of electronic steering and the AMCES, Motoroid 2 can self-balance, hop up off its own kickstand and ride around of its own accord. Through facial recognition and gesture control, riders can ask it to follow them around and such.
All of this was in evidence, in one form or another, on the original Motoroid concept, first presented nearly six years ago. You can see the terrifying twisting motions of this self-balancing monstrosity in the video below.
So what's new? Well, new cosmetics and bodywork, for one, plus a brutally large pair of gleaming training-wheel sidestand legs. The handgrips have been reshaped and relocated, and there's now a pretty sick-looking headlight unit up front.
Where the original Motoroid shown in the video above had a pair of gentle-looking arms that would fold down behind you and grip your hips like a prison roommate, the new version drops this idea and forces you to outsource any such assistance.
Instead, now there's a very futuristic-looking set of translucent white bodywork, impregnated with blue mood lighting, and this appears able to fold right upward, tilting the seat backward toward the rear wheel in the process. Yamaha doesn't feel it needs to explain why exactly you'd want to flip the "tank" like this; maybe there's some storage under there, or perhaps it's just a mating display.
The company says the Motoroid 2 has "a distinctly lifelike feel when somebody is riding on its back," and "a presence more like a lifetime companion" despite the new lack of hip-gripping.
Where does it all lead? Certainly not toward a production bike. But Yamaha has built a working, self-balancing version of this bonkers AI moto concept, and seen fit to spend some more time in the intervening years tarting it up into a second-gen concept, which is something you don't see all that often.
Very odd stuff. It'll be on display later this month at the Events Japan Mobility Show 2023.