Kawasaki to Develop Motorcycles with Artificial Intelligence…and Emotion

“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” –Hal

If you’ve ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, you might think twice about putting your faith in machines with artificial intelligence. And then there’s the whole Skynet deal from the Terminator movies, the Replicants in Blade Runner, that creepy Mecha kid in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and so on.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI), however, is betting that the reality of artificial intelligence—or AI—will be not only benign, but a boon to the motorcycling experience.

Conceptualization of Kawasaki's artificial intelligence and emotion-equipped motorcycle.
Conceptualization of Kawasaki’s artificial intelligence and emotion-equipped motorcycle.

Kawasaki says it plans to develop “next-generation motorcycles that can grow along with the rider” using a combination of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

These motorcycles of the future will use something called the Emotion Generation Engine and Natural Language Dialogue System, said to be “a form of artificial intelligence that enables man and machine to communicate with technology capable of recognizing emotion by the sound of the speaker’s voice,” using a platform being developed by cocoro SB Corp., a member of the SoftBank Group.

Riders will be able to talk with the AI-controlled system, and, Kawasaki says, such communication between the rider and the motorcycle “will open the door to a new world of unprecedented riding experiences.”

Accessing Kawasaki’s bank of analytical chassis and performance data, the system will be able to offer the rider “pertinent hints for enhanced riding enjoyment, or relay information as the situation dictates.” Through advanced electronic management technology, having the system update machine settings based on the rider’s experience, skill and riding style will also be possible.

Not only will the motorcycle be able to communicate to the rider and adjust settings, the system “intends to allow a relationship with the rider and motorcycle. The more the rider and motorcycle interact, the stronger the bond, and this communication will allow the motorcycle to develop a unique personality reflecting the individual idiosyncrasies of the rider. This system is intended to give the rider an all-new kind of enjoyment.”

OK, we’re just going to let that last bit sink in for a moment. Go ahead, re-read the previous paragraph. Got it?

This new system is part of Kawasaki’s rider-centric development philosophy, called RIDEOLOGY, which “is a commitment to pursue all possibilities to ensure that its products are fun and rewarding to ride.” To this end, Kawasaki plans to take full advantage of “the vast experience and combined technological resources of the KHI Group as it explores novel approaches in the development of new products and technologies.”

So, whether the Sugomi-styled Z1000 will someday become a more friendly, enjoyable version of HAL 9000 remains to be seen. But as far as Kawasaki is concerned, anything is possible.


  1. It’s “personality” will develops from the rider? AT LAST!! Someone intelligent to talk to on a ride. (Karen, don’ t show this to my wife).

  2. Greg,

    Informative and humorous! A two-fer, if you will!

    Some suggestions:

    First communication from bike following key-on: “Are you sober and ready to ride safely, Dave? My sensors indicate you took 5 tries to insert the ignition key.”

    “Pardon me Dave, but you seem to be weaving a lot today. I’m going to do a controlled power-down before stopping and give you time to reconsider this ride. Press 1 to override, but remember, you only get three warnings.”

    “Sorry Dave, your weaving and erratic riding continues. Look for a place to pull over in 10, 9, 8 …”.

    “Dave, my inertial navigation system tells me you just did a 200′ wheelie and GPS says we were in a school One more warning, Dave, then I’ll instruct the EMS to put your bike into limp-home.”

    “Dave, sensors indicate wet conditions and I am increasing ABS sensitivity.”

    “Dave, GPS indicates you entered too hot and went wide on the last turn. Help me out here, Dave, I can only do so much with Stability Control, ABS, EMS, and flashing lights. I can’t fix stoopid.”

    And to make sure riders pay attention, the voice of Roger Rabbit will be the announcer. (Jessica optional).


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