Kawasaki Working on Artificial Intelligence for Motorcycles

08/31/2016 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Motorcyclists often romanticize about their bikes, talking about a motorcycle’s personality, or lack thereof.

This is total bullshit by the way, but there is something to be said about the connection between man and machine, as it is the same emotional bond that makes one a devout believer of one brand, and detractor to another.

Usually we make these connections through something visceral, like the sound of an engine, the power going down the road, or the handling of the chassis. Rarely does one speak about a motorcycle’s personality in the same breath as its electronics, but that might change.

This is because Kawasaki is working on an artificial intelligence (AI) project that will see its motorcycles grow and evolve personalities to compliment its owners.

AI is a term that gets thrown around fairly easily, with its range of meaning running the spectrum from a machine that would pass a Turing test, to a machine that merely has feedback-loop algorithms and adaptive parameters.

For example, until this season, MotoGP bikes had adaptive traction control, which would adjust a variety of rider aid settings on-the-fly, depending on course conditions and rider inputs. It would be inappropriate to say though that these bikes were using a form of artificial intelligence, however.

As such, where Kawasaki lands in this spectrum of developing true AI is open for debate. But still, we find the concept intriguing. Let me explain.

According to Kawasaki’s own documents, which only scratch the surface as to what the Japanese behemoth is actually doing, two people could in theory buy identical model motorcycles from the same dealer, but over the course of time the two machines would being to ride and operate differently, as they developed distinct personalities based on their owners own temperament and riding style.

The idea is of course to create a greater bond between a motorcyclist and a motorcycle, which in turn leads to brand loyalty and repeat sales. This is my motorcycle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Kawasaki outlines some parameters that its AI system would measure, like a rider’s voice and riding inputs, which would then be interpreted into some sort of personality profile that grows over time. Words like the “internet” and “cloud storage” are used as well.

The concept is an interesting one, and it brings up not only radical new thoughts about how we interact with things like a motorcycle, but also new debates for the transportation sector, like privacy and ethics.

There are many steps between here and true AI, which I’ve outlined before, but just to get it out there…I, for one, welcome our future robot overlords.

Source: Kawasaki via Motorcycle Daily

  • MrDefo

    We already have ECUs that adapt to changing conditions (air pressure, temperature, system leaks, ect) over time in small ways, so it sounds to me like Kawasaki is building off of that idea. Perhaps they are taking into consideration lean angle, rider’s input (speed of throttle rotation for example) and general riding RPM. From there, certain things can be extrapolated and changed. In my imagination I’m picturing a bike whose display changes tone based on these preferences – perhaps by changing the inspirational message that it displays when the bike is turned on, to possibly having an audio component. I got the impression that they wanted to have the rider’s audio have an impact, which means to me that at least a helmet microphone would be necessary to overcome overall ambient noise. It’s a neat concept, and it might just be a way of enticing riders. For example, I have been driving a recent Mini Cooper, and when I get in the interior lighting changes, as well there is a little display of a winking car on the dash when I turn the car on. It’s a little thing, but it adds to the whole “experience”. Or maybe the designers at Kawasaki are watching too much anime.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    The first time I rode my R1, it was terrifying. Acceleration in 5th gear at 40 mph was faster than any car I’d been in. These days, it’s like a glove and stupid things only happen when I get stupid. So even though I’m the one who did the adapting, it feels like a totally different bike than it did the first time out.

  • paulus

    For the love of all things holy…. please, NO!

  • n/a

    Wtf are they smoking?

    People actually want this bullsh*t?

  • LeDelmo

    Reviewers sure do. They always give the nod to the bikes with the most rider aids.

    Doesn’t matter how good the bike is nowadays if it doesn’t have the electronics. Reviews will write it off.

  • Kenny

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/4c/4b/ed/4c4bed470dd1a9549b5c94e46a2a624c.jpg

    A.I…….right. My biggest concern would be due to my bike becoming part of the Internet of Things and thus hack-able by any little bored script kiddie.

    That and not being able to sell my bike because it has an attitude problem

  • MacaveliMC

    This is very interesting, and could be kind of cool for motorcycle owners, if the bike only seems to get better as you ride it. For me, I think I would be a little disappointed though, as I love to ride my friends bikes to get a feel for how different bikes ride, and obviously it would not be true to form of the bike if the attitude of the bike was already molded to someone else.

  • Alex

    Interesting for sure… But my 2cents is that learning the character of each bike is what bonds us to those bikes and its lost if it’s the other way around.

  • Eric

    This. As the Chrysler hack last year demonstrated, manufacturers of all kinds of devices are rushing to connect them to the internet without enough thought about security. It’s a wide-scale disaster waiting to happen.

  • AHA

    Most Ducati’s, especially pre-Audi ones, have more than enough ‘personality’ for their owners. Guzzi’s too. We love them for their ‘idiosyncrasies’. Even when we’re cursing them.

  • Ryan Donahue

    I, for one, welcome our new motorcycle overlords.

  • Alclab

    it could be very interesting to get a sense of the way your friends ride by the way their bike has adapted to them…

  • Alclab

    Surprisingly most of the comments refuse such a technology. Yes I love my perfectly balanced sportbike without electronics, but I think that this is a very interesting line of development. We all imagine our bikes as having “personalities” and learn to ride with them (I even talk to my bikes all the time). Of course the personalities we adapt is just learning to ride a different machine with different throttle characteristics, brake lever feel, acceleration, weight, etc.

    It seems to me incredible that technology is developed to have the motorcycle adapt to us. For you to know how your buddies ride by testing their bikes. It seems very proper that as cars are just going to be automated and self-driing in the future, us Motorcyclists get spoiled by having our machines learn how we like to ride.

    For it to know when I’m pushing hard on the twisties, or darting through traffic, or need that extra engine braking. For it to know when I wanna be playful, slide just a little, or when I’m terrified for riding in a hailstorm with my helmet all fogged up.

    I also, welcome our new motorcycle AI overlords.