Japanese manufacturer’s new technology would mean you’re never really riding solo.
As a means of transportation, motorcycles have a lot of things going for them. They’re fuel-efficient, compact enough to easily navigate narrow roads, and provide a unique kind of undeniable fun. Now, manufacturer Kawasaki wants to give its models one more selling point, by letting riders talk with their motorcycles via an AI program.
The just-announced, still-in-development system is called the Kanjo Engine, which translates as “Emotion Engine” (though it’s not to be confused with the PlayStation 2 CPU that bore that English name). The goal of the system is to be able to understand and react to motorcyclists’ normal, human speech. Through continued communication, the bike will learn the owner’s amount of motorcycle experience, skill level, and individual riding style.
Conversations won’t be entirely one-sided affairs, either, as the AI will offer suggestions for a safe, enjoyable ride. But what’s likely to have a more direct effect on the riding experience is a planned feature in which after developing a profile of the rider, various vehicle settings will automatically be adjusted accordingly. While Kawasaki is yet to specify what exactly can be altered in this way, engine response and power output seem like likely candidates, along with suspension settings.
Obviously the AI will only be able to work with the parts the motorcycle comes from the factory with, which means a skilled performance mechanic should be able to carry out the same sort of tuning. However, by having the AI handle the process, Kawasaki has the potential to greatly broaden the appeal of models fitted with the system.
Given the greater difficulty in operation and fewer safety features motorcycles have compared to cars, many new riders start off with an older, used bike, so as not to get themselves in trouble with something that has too much power or sharpness in handling for them to safely use. The Kanjo Engine, however, could allow even less-experienced riders to purchase a new, higher-end Kawasaki, secure in the knowledge that the machine will be doling out its performance gradually and in effect growing along with its owner.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s thinking he really misses talking with his Mazda.