Renault Gets an Electric Car to Write Jack Kerouac Fan Fiction via Artificial Intelligence

Automobile Becomes 'Author' in Unusual Tech-Driven Campaign

Published On
Apr 04, 2017

Editor's Pick

A new campaign for Renault in Sweden sees its Zoe electric car "write" Jack Kerouac fan fiction for test drivers via artificial intelligence.

According to agency Edelman Deportivo, one of the major obstacles to widespread electric-car adoption is commonly labelled "range anxiety," or the fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination. So the effort aims to show how far a Renault can go in a single charge, by showing a car going where no other has gone before -- by turning automobile into "author."

The "Written by Zoe" promotes the Zoe, which has a 400km range. The brand obtained permission from the the estate of Jack Kerouac to write authorized fan fiction stories based on the themes and style of writing of his novel "On the Road" (which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year).

The "stories" are entirely composed through live driving data from Stockholm test drives in the Zoe, with the help of AI-technology. The idea is that, by analyzing "On The Road" and using the car's internal and external sensor data to turn it into contextual storylines, the system writes unique stories for each driver.

So how does it work? The book's data is analyzed with help of Watson's API, detecting the original text's language, tone, emotions and social tone. The car is then equipped with a Raspberry Pi, a data collecting scanner, 4G-modem and GPS to collect data about the drive. The external data is collected from open APIs such as weather, places nearby and geo-positioning.

The sensor data then decides which way the story unveils: for example, if the driver goes slowly, the story takes one path, or if it's raining, it takes another. Every story is therefore unique. During the drive, the car reads the story in real time, using text-to-speech technology, and each driver gets a printed version of their own unique story using a thermal printer and a Raspberry Pi with a 4G-modem.

You can find out more about the campaign, and sees behind-the-scenes films, at the Written by Zoe website.