Kawasaki's vision for emotionally responsive, artificially intelligent motorcycles leaves us cringing
Kawasaki has released some details on its future plans to enhance your motorcycling experience with a voice-interactive, personality-based AI assistant. And it looks absolutely terrible.
According to a press release, Kawasaki is "moving forward with plans to develop next-generation motorcycles that have a personality and that can grow along with the rider."
Using technology under development by robotics teams at cocoro SB corp called the "Emotion Generation Engine and Natural Language Dialogue System," future Kawasaki bikes would be able to converse with the rider, change settings, recognize the rider's emotions and build a personality that fits with the rider's idiosyncrasies.
Which sounds … kind of interesting. But they back it up with a concept video that makes the entire concept seem completely absurd.
Talking to your bike about suspension settings is one thing. But telling it "I don't like city traffic" and then being told you can catch the next green light if you go a bit slower is a bit of a stretch.
Then there's the warning that a car might be pulling out in front of you soon, which says "watch out, a car is coming from your right on the next blind cross-section." Somehow the system knows about this dopey driver so far in advance that it can tell you in a very leisurely and verbose style.
Next up, you're barreling into a corner up in the mountains, and a punchable little voice pops up to say "there's a sharp right curve, so apply some brake pressure before the turn."
Later, the rider tells the bike how much fun he had on his ride, and the bike sends him the route on his phone, plus some photos it took to remember the day by. Sorry, what? And to end off on the most cringeworthy note ever, there's this, which we won't dignify with any further comment:
The whole thing is a love letter to inefficient communication, a symphony of redundant technologies nobody asked for and that require massive public data infrastructure to be invented and built before they'll work.
The only half-decent ideas in the whole thing are the forward weather alerts and the possibility of popping up a warning when you're steaming into a corner too fast. But there's two big problems with those as well. Firstly, they could easily be done using existing technology through a mobile phone and Bluetooth headset.
And secondly, working out what speed is appropriate for a given corner requires the sum total of a rider's motorcycling experience. What's the road surface like? Is there a driveway that might see gravel dragged onto the road in the middle of it? Is it mossy? How long since it last rained? Has there been regular diesel spills on all the last ten left handers? What condition are your tires in?
Not to mention, how good a rider are you? Safe entry speeds between beginners and novices can be massively different, even on the same corner.
Kawasaki is a big company that makes some unbelievable motorcycles. But I think we'd all be better off if they'd left this video on the cutting room floor. And the concept itself … until I see some much more practical examples, I'm gonna pass. Get your cringing face ready and enjoy the video below: