Kawasaki Shows Off Future Hybrid and A.I.-Equipped Motorcycle Technologies

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Hybrid development still at a very early stage

Kawasaki typically tries to showcase some of the project it works on at motorcycle shows like EICMA. Last year, for example, Kawasaki presented an electric motorcycle concept and provided a look at its development. Obviously, there are no motorcycle shows this year due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped Kawasaki from showcasing some of its ongoing projects, providing a peek at its hybrid motorcycle and artificial intelligence projects.

In a brief demo video, Kawasaki discussed the potential applications for a hybrid power train. The video shows how a motorcycle could use an internal combustion engine for highways, taking advantage of the high power potential of a gas-fueled system. In city use, with slower speeds and a lot of stop and go traffic, a hybrid motorcycle could switch to a purely electric drive mode. The video used Paris, France, as an example, recognizing the city’s stated goal of banning gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2030.

Winding roads could take advantage of a hybrid mode, benefiting from both the gasoline-burning engine and the electric motor. The video ends with a hybrid prototype on a dynamometer, running first on electric power before the gasoline engine kicks in.

Kawasaki says it is still trying to figure out the batteries, but noted the company’s ongoing research on a scalable Gigacell nickel-metal hydride technology that it is researching currently being conducted on public transportation vehicles in Japan including an electric light rail vehicle in Sapporo.

Like the electric drive technology shown last year, Kawasaki says the hybrid motorcycle project is still at a very early stage, so we shouldn’t expect to see a finished product in the immediate future.

Kawasaki also discussed its ongoing work on artificial intelligence, in the form of a voice-operated digital assistant like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant. Kawasaki is developing an in-helmet voice activated system that can respond to voice commands. The A.I. could, for example, tell a rider how much remaining range a bike has before needing more fuel or look up weather and traffic patterns along a route.

The demo video also shows a ride playback mode showing ride data with a 3D animated model. Kawasaki says its A.I. project is already in a trial stage with select riders testing the system in the field in Japan.

Kawasaki also showed a demo of Mule side-by-side with an autonomous drive system. Kawasaki sees potential in a self-driving Mule for commercial applications as well as for emergency services.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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  • Jack Meoph Jack Meoph on Nov 27, 2020


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    • Wally Wally on Dec 03, 2020

      That makes no freaking sense whatsoever...I'll have what you're smoking.