Yamaha has unveiled Motobot, a robot designed to ride superbikes

Humans might not be the fastest things on two wheels before long. Yamaha has unveiled Motobot, a robot designed to ride superbikes much like you would -- it even has to twist the throttle to get moving. This initial version travels slowly and needs training wheels to avoid tipping over in a turn, so it's not about to compete on the MotoGP circuit just yet. 

However, Yamaha ultimately hopes to get Motobot blasting along at more than 120MPH on a race track. It goes so far as to put racing legend Valentino Rossi on notice, as you'll see in the promo video below.

Not that you're going to see robots taking over racing leagues any time soon. Instead, Yamaha sees its robotic rider as a testbed for rider safety and support systems, both of which have to work well under punishing conditions. It could also lead to technology that's useful outside of the motorbike world, for that matter. Think of this as inspiring creative solutions to unusual problems, rather than an explicit attempt to beat flesh-and-bone motorcyclists -- any race victories are just icing on the cake.

The blue, human-shaped machine has stationary arm- and leg-like appendages. It also has a head, and the entire robot is mounted atop the company’s flagship YZF-R1 motorcycle, looking very much like a professional MotoGP racer crouching low toward the handlebars to accelerate down a racetrack.

Motobot has six actuators for the steering, throttle, front brake, rear brake, clutch and gearshift pedal. Eventually, the goal is to employ high-precision GPS, various sensors and artificial intelligence—what Yamaha calls “machine learning”—to “enable Motobot to make its own decisions regarding the best lines to take around a racetrack and the limits of the motorcycle’s performance, so that it can improve its lap times with successive laps of the track,” the company said.

"I am MOTOBOT. I was created to surpass you," the robot said in a slightly creepy video message addressed to star rider Valentino Rossi. "I am improving my skills every day but I am not sure I could even beat the five-year-old you. Perhaps if I learn everything about you, I will be able to catch up..."