“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.
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.