According to The Asahi Shimbun, Honda Motor Co. is boldly going where no other Japanese automaker has gone before: outer space.
The company announced plans to branch into the space sector that include putting robots on the moon and developing technology so humans en route to Mars can live there.
Its first goal is to develop a rocket that can launch a satellite within the next decade.
The company, whose corporate philosophy has long encouraged coming up with new ideas by thinking outside the box, is the first domestic automaker to express an interest into blasting off into the space sector.
Honda officials said they were considering developing avatar robots capable of operating on the moon.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, this northern city that was heavily damaged by the 2011 tsunami is now looking to generate renewable energy by harnessing the power of the sea.
A local breakwater rebuilt after sustaining damage in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake will become the site for the new wave power project.
When the waves move up and down vertically and diagonally, they will send air through a duct. That air will rotate a turbine generator to produce electricity.
Artificial intelligence will predict and control the strength of the waves so that the generator operates efficiently.
The annual output target is 333,000 kilowatt hours, enough to cover the energy consumption of 83 ordinary households.
According to The Nikkei Asia, a Japanese flying car startup is eager to gain credibility with the public for its sci-fi-like mobility system by forging close ties with local governments and big companies in the western city of Osaka.
Tokyo-based SkyDrive, which is working on an electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, signed an agreement last week with the Osaka municipal and prefectural governments to promote the industry.
SkyDrive hopes to use the 2025 Osaka World Expo to launch its mobility service, ferrying visitors around by air without the need for large-scale takeoff and landing facilities.
"The Strong leadership of Osaka Prefecture and the City of Osaka is pushing our project forward," said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, chief executive of SkyDrive, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Wednesday, adding that Osaka is likely to be where flying cars first take off in Japan.
"Not only installing eVTOL but also building social acceptance and developing a startup ecosystem in Osaka might be possible under the agreement," Fukuzawa said.
According to The Nikkei Asia, a research team at Japan's Keio University has developed plastic optical fibers that can send information with few or no errors, with potential applications from data centers to self-driving cars.
Fiber-optic cables now used for high-speed data transmission are typically made with glass -- expensive, fragile and difficult to work with. There have been high hopes for plastic as an alternative, but plastic cables generate more error-causing noise that can delay transmission and use more energy.
The fiber developed by professor Yasuhiro Koike's team controls the path of the light traveling within it, scattering it forward to eliminate noise caused by light reflecting in other directions. It was able to transmit signals at 53 gigabits per second in testing, with no need for error correction.
The aim is to make the fibers available commercially as early as 2022.
This technology could reduce data lag in automated vehicles and cut down on electricity consumption by data centers -- a growing issue as more are built worldwide to keep up with the rise in data usage.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, blood pressure can be reduced through a hypertension therapeutic app that provides dietary advice and other health-monitoring features, a clinical trial has shown.
The app, jointly developed by Jichi Medical University and CureApp Inc., runs on smartphones and other devices.
"Treatment with the app can be a significant option for non-drug treatment," said Kazuomi Kario, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the university who served as clinical trial coordinator.
The app provides advice on reducing salt in the diet and other efforts to improve the user's daily habits by entering daily blood pressure readings, content of meals and the amount of exercise.
CureApp, based in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, submitted an application in May requesting the health ministry to approve production and sale of the app as a medical instrument.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japan's transportation ministry plans to introduce stricter safety requirements for autonomous vehicles, paving the way for buses and other public transportation that can operate without human drivers in aging, rural communities.
Japan is looking to level 4 automation, which does not require human control and may operate without a wheel or pedals, to provide a mobility solution to remote regions, where transit services are chronically hemorrhaging red ink.
Since level 4 vehicles would need to operate autonomously even in bad weather or in emergency situations, higher safety standards are necessary. The current standards cover only up to Level 3, which is premised on humans taking over driving in emergencies.
According to The Nikkei Asia, to serve drinks at the Dawn Avatar Robot Cafe, Fujita uses a humanoid robot named Tele-Barista. With its two arms, it can grab a mug and prepare a French press coffee much like a human barista. Fujita controls the apron-clad robot using a computer mouse. As her disease progresses and makes it more difficult to move the muscles in her hands, she plans to switch to a control panel that can be operated by tracking her eye movements.
Fujita uses a different, camera-equipped, robot to talk with customers, asking them what kind of beans they would like or suggesting a chocolate to go with their cup of Kenyan coffee. OriHime, as the "avatar" robot is called, is around 20 cm tall and sits on the Tele-Barista's shoulder.
A Japanese flying car with a Ferrari-sized price tag will begin test flights in its home country by next spring, marking its first air miles with a pilot on board.
University of Tokyo-spawned startup teTra Aviation plans to begin testing its single-person electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with an operator on board in Japan by March 2022. The Tokyo company has received certification for testing from the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. and is conducting tests there without an operator aboard.
The Mk-5, unveiled at an American aviation show earlier in the summer, is just one of the global contenders in flying cars -- a field that has attracted the likes of Uber Technologies, Hyundai Motor, Japan Airlines and Toyota Motor. The plane has a 160 km range and is expected to start at 40 million yen (US$ 360,000).
Preorders have begun, and more than 100 inquiries from potential buyers have already come in, according to the company.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, whether the criminal activity you're dealing in is money laundering, stalking or selling drugs on social media, AI is coming for you, as Japan's police partner up more with the increasingly efficient multitasking technology.
The National Police Agency is exploring the potential and limits of artificial intelligence in investigations and security operations via trial runs. Some AI-based techniques have already yielded significant benefits in crime detection tests.
“We are aggressively forging ahead with trials for more advanced, improved police activity,” a senior NPA official said. “However, so that police officers can make final judgments on their own, we have no plans to leave everything to AI.”
The NPA in fiscal 2019 began a verification test of an AI system that analyzed images of dozens of models of vehicles.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Panasonic will offer rice cookers and microwave ovens that let users add functions via the internet later, in response to customer feedback revealing that many of the features packed into such products go unused.
Customers who buy the new rice cookers choose three modes from a lineup of 25 -- including brown rice and rice for freezer storage -- and install them using smartphones. Just like with smartphone apps, users can swap functions based on family composition and lifestyle.
"Even if there are multiple modes, customers actually only use two or three," a Panasonic marketing manager said.
The new microwaves carry only basic functions like reheat and defrost. Users who want to grill or steam food must buy separate grilling plates and steaming pots, and then download those functions. In a Panasonic survey, 60% of consumers said their current microwaves have many functions they never use.
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