Design guru discusses the irreversible march of mechanisation and automation from an avid motorcyclist’s point of view
obotics have been playing
an increasing role in our lives for, well, most of our lives. whether that’s the mechanization of industrial processes, the automation of supply and delivery, or now interacting with a virtual assistant such as amazon’s alexa, we’re all
linked to artificial intelligence at some level, even if we aren’t always aware of it. one thing is for sure — that interaction is only going to increase, and very likely, exponentially.
the infiltration of robotics into the motorcycle world has, up to this point, been mostly from a manufacturing perspective. I remember being proudly shown a robotic handlebar press in taiwan many years ago that took metal tubes, cut, pressed and finished them with automated precision. Until one tube went in at a slightly wrong angle and got bent out of all recognition as the machine went through its pre-programmed repertoire. the ejection arm couldn’t find anything to eject, and the whole machine went into confusion mode until two chaps in overalls jumped in and killed the fuse. I found it all highly entertaining, although my host, anxious to demonstrate his company’s technological lead, was less amused.
things have moved on significantly since then, although there’s still a general public apprehension that indicates we’re waiting for it all to go horribly wrong. that doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of the entire human race by self-learning mechanised death robots, but don’t tell me you don’t nod an inward I-told-you-so every time you hear of an accident involving a self-driving vehicle. the fact that the cause is mostly due to some dip-weed in manual control of a second vehicle doesn’t adjust our perspective that autonomous vehicles are all accidents waiting to happen.
the american automobile association (aaa) famously launched the autonomous ‘hopon’ shuttle on the las Vegas strip in November, which infamously crashed on its first day of operation. the fault was a reversing delivery truck. the shuttle spotted the impending incident, and duly stopped, while einstein, the truck driver, didn’t, and didn’t. the result should
AAA’s ‘Hopon’ autonomous Las Vegas shuttle was involved in an accident on day one