Kanto


Tokyo taxi firms tie up to offer autonomous driving experience for foreign visitors

The Japan Times

A consortium of companies is offering foreign visitors in Tokyo a taste of autonomous driving, in the world's first demonstration of a project that uses both an airport shuttle bus and a self-driving taxi to provide smooth travel from the airport to the Marunouchi shopping district near Tokyo Station. The Mobility as a Service experiment, which allows reservations by smartphone, is to be operated from Jan. 20 to Feb. 1. Foreign nationals are able to reserve a shuttle bus from Haneda or Narita airport to Tokyo City Air Terminal, and then ride an autonomous taxi from there on the around 3 kilometers leg to Marunouchi. They will also be able to ride in a fully autonomous single-seat vehicle for free on select days, and use a tablet to choose their destination within the Marunouchi area. The autonomous taxi will have a backup driver for safety reasons. Reservations for foreign nationals via smartphone app began on Dec. 2 and will run until Jan. 9.


Autonomous taxi experience offered for foreign visitors to Tokyo

The Japan Times

A consortium of companies is offering foreign visitors in Tokyo a taste of autonomous driving in the world's first demonstration of a project utilizing both an airport shuttle bus and a self-driving taxi to smoothly travel from the airport to the Marunouchi shopping district near Tokyo Station. The Mobility as a Service experiment that will allow smartphone users to make a reservation is to be held from Jan. 20 to Feb. 1. Foreign nationals can reserve a shuttle bus from Haneda or Narita airport to Tokyo City Air Terminal and from there ride an autonomous taxi for about 3 kilometers to Marunouchi. They can also ride in a fully autonomous single-seat vehicle for free on select days and use a tablet to move to their destination of choice within the Marunouchi area. The autonomous taxi will have a backup driver for safety reasons. Reservations via smartphone app started on Dec. 2 and will run until Jan. 9.


A researcher in Japan designed an AI program for Othello that always loses to human players

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A new online version of the game Othello has become a hit in Japan because the AI has been designed to always lose, and players love it. The game, called'The weakest AI Othello,' was released in August and has since attracted over 400,000 players for more than 1.29 million games. It was developed by Takuma Yoshida, who works at Avilen,a Tokyo firm that designs AI and machine learning tools for businesses. 'The Weakest AI Othello' is an online version of the popular board game, in which the computer AI has been designed to always lose to the human player One day at work, Yoshida began to question why he was spending so much time trying to engineer software to outperform humans. He wondered whether human attitudes toward AI and robotics might be different if humans didn't always expect to be beaten by them, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun.


Robotic 8-foot exoskeleton suit turns users into a frightening Terminator-like cyborg

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A robotic exoskeleton that turns the wearer into a terrifying 8-foot tall robot that responds to human touch has been developed by a Japanese robotics company. Users inside the robot's huge frame can move their limbs to control the suit's arms and legs, while buttons on the robot's hand grips also allow control of the fingers. The'Arrive' suit has been designed and demonstrated by a Tokyo-based company called Skeletonics, which says its products are designed to make you'feel as if you were a giant'. Skeletonics provides a human body function expansion gear that, when attached, makes you feel'as if you were a giant' 'We, Japanese people, have the perception that robots equal something to fight, robots equal something to ride on,' said Skeletonics CEO Kento Hiroi. 'Those kind of image is very visually strong for us, so we are making this robot with the desire to make that dream come true.


Japan's government hoping to stop net population inflows into Tokyo by 2024

The Japan Times

The central government aims to stop net population inflows into the greater Tokyo area by fiscal 2024, it was learned Tuesday. The goal was included in a draft of the government's second five-year comprehensive strategy for regional revitalization, set to run from fiscal 2020. The government hopes to gain Cabinet approval for the new strategy, a successor to the first strategy that covered fiscal 2015-2019, by the end of this month. In the second strategy, the government will scrutinize steps taken under the first strategy and indicate a direction for new measures to accelerate regional revitalization. To alleviate the concentration of people in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, the government will make efforts to increase the number of people who have side jobs in rural areas or visit the countryside while living in urban areas.


SoftBank Opens Institute in Tokyo to Accelerate AI Research

#artificialintelligence

SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son unveiled a $184 million initiative Friday to accelerate artificial intelligence research in Japan, enlisting Alibaba's Jack Ma to expound on his goal of commercializing the technology. Son's company announced a partnership with the University of Tokyo that includes spending 20 billion yen ($184 million) over 10 years by mobile arm SoftBank Corp. to establish the Beyond AI Institute. He roped in the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder for an on-campus chat, during which the two billionaires discussed their vision for the future of technology. The institute will support 150 researchers from various disciplines and focus on transitioning AI research from the academic to the commercial using joint ventures between universities and companies. Health-care, city and social infrastructure and manufacturing will be the primary areas of focus, SoftBank Corp. said in a statement.


Japan hoping to stop net population inflows into Tokyo by 2024

The Japan Times

The central government aims to stop net population inflows into the greater Tokyo area by fiscal 2024, it was learned Tuesday. The goal was included in a draft of the government's second five-year comprehensive strategy for regional revitalization from fiscal 2020. The government hopes to gain Cabinet approval for the new strategy, the successor to the first strategy covering fiscal 2015-2019, by the end of this month. In the second strategy, the government will scrutinize steps taken under the first strategy and show a direction for new measures for accelerating regional revitalization. To alleviate the concentration of people in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, the government will make efforts to increase the number of people who have side jobs in rural areas or visit the countryside while living in urban areas.


SoftBank seeks to take Japan 'Beyond AI'

#artificialintelligence

The University of Tokyo and SoftBank will set up an artificial intelligence (AI) research base to develop bright minds and start-up ambitions for Japan. Called the Beyond AI Institute, it aims to be an organisation that brings together researchers from the University of Tokyo and universities abroad. The bank will spend $184 million over the next ten years for this institute. Specific initiatives include work in quantum physics and the combination of AI and biofunctions. The Tokyo-based institute will also look at areas such as "health and medical," "public works and social infrastructure" and "manufacturing."


SoftBank and University of Tokyo to open business-oriented AI research centers

The Japan Times

SoftBank Corp. and the University of Tokyo have agreed to open artificial-intelligence centers staffed with specialists from the university and around the world, to swiftly turn research into profitable business ventures so Japan can keep up with the U.S. and China. "If they are stuck with research … their funds and passions will drain away," SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said at an event announcing the joint project at the prestigious university. "By teaming with the University of Tokyo, we want to give students a chance to learn and start a business," said Son, who has stressed the importance of AI for years. Under the arrangement, a pair of facilities -- one on the university's Hongo campus in Bunkyo Ward and the other at a planned new SoftBank office in the Takeshiba district -- will be established in spring and winter of 2020 at the earliest, respectively, under the brand Beyond AI. The Hongo base will handle basic research on the evolution of AI and potential ways to apply the technology in physics, robotics, brain science and other fields.


r/MachineLearning - [D] Preferred Networks (creators of Chainer) migrating it's research platform to PyTorch from Chainer

#artificialintelligence

PFN to work with PyTorch and the open-source community to develop the framework and advance MN-Core processor support. Preferred Networks, Inc. (PFN, Head Office: Tokyo, President & CEO: Toru Nishikawa) today announced plans to incrementally transition its deep learning framework (a fundamental technology in research and development) from PFN's Chainer to PyTorch. Concurrently, PFN will collaborate with Facebook and the other contributors of the PyTorch community to actively participate in the development of PyTorch. With the latest major upgrade v7 released today, Chainer will move into a maintenance phase. PFN will provide documentation and a library to facilitate the migration to PyTorch for Chainer users.