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Kawasaki’s AI Motorcycle Plans: Watch The Video…Tell Us What You Think…

Published November 27, 2016

At little while ago, we revealed that Kawasaki had plans to integrate artificial intelligence into their future motorcycles. Now, we have a video that demonstrates exactly how it’s going to work…and it looks a bit…rubbish. Keep in mind that this is only a mock-up video of how they want it to be, so we shouldn’t judge it too hard, but even so, we think it could be a little cooler.

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If you think about how awesome AI systems are in the movies, and then you watch this, you’re going to be left disappointed because JARVIS it ain’t. The voice actor who’s playing the part of the rider is certainly no Tony Stark either… However, it does effectively demonstrate the ambitions of Kawasaki and their tech partner SoftBank’s “Emotion Generation Engine” and “Natural Language Dialogue System.” Hopefully, they’ll have some time to re-evaluate a few things, and by the time this sort of technology filters down to the average rider, a few of the creases will be ironed out.

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The whole idea of the project is to give the motorcycle a unique personality that fits the personality of the rider, and this onboard AI will be capable of adjusting settings, pre-empting possible hazards and dangers, and handling a wide range of duties. If you’re riding along and feel like your suspension could do with an adjustment, you’d simply talk to your motorcycle via a microphone in your helmet, which would recognize your voice and adjust said suspension accordingly.

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Similarly, if you happen to be riding along and the AI perceives a hazard such as car approaching from a side street, the AI will alert you through a set of speakers in your helmet and warn you to slow down or make appropriate course adjustments. The same sort of alerts will pop up if you’re approaching a corner carrying a little too much speed, or if the road is clear enough to warrant changing your ride modes from something like urban to sport. All good so far, right?

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However, earlier on in the video, there’s an odd circumstance when the rider suddenly just says “I don’t like city traffic,” and the AI responds with “I understand. I will make it easier for you. If you go 5 km per hour slower, you can pass the next signal at a green light.” I take issue with this. Firstly, how would the AI be able to work that out? Secondly, if the rider doesn’t like riding in city traffic, maybe he shouldn’t be riding his bike in city traffic in the first place. If you have to change how you ride to help you avoid the “scary” bits, then you’re probably just a bad rider and no amount of AI is going to stop that. Surely the future should be about making us better riders, not dumbing us down? And dictating the flow of traffic to suit your own demands is a little on the selfish side…

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And that’s not even the weirdest thing about it. At the end, we have this strange moment where the bike tells the rider how much fun it had on their ride, and sends the rider a few pictures. Seconds later, Kawasaki drop the ultimate cringe bomb in the form of a text from the riders son… We’ll let you enjoy that moment for yourselves…

So there you have it. Despite the bile inducing video, there are a lot of plus points, and we really can’t wait to see this kind of tech develop: providing it develops properly. We’re happy to live without the photo sharing and text message portions, providing they’re replaced with real time evaluations of important things like road conditions, tire wear, and relevant data. Of course, if the AI really fits your personality, I don’t think many of us will have a mild mannered twenty-something British lad calling the shots either, nor a bike that says “Oh I had a really good time with you today.” In my case, it will be an angry, foul mouthed son of a bitch barking orders at me, finishing every ride with “Kill me, you mother f*cker…put me out of my god damn misery already.”

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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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