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.