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Incredible moment a British Paralympian swimmer takes her first steps wearing a robotic exoskeleton

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Incredible footage shows the moment a British Paralympian swimmer with cerebral palsy stands up and takes her first steps wearing a robotic exoskeleton. Grace Harvey, 21, was able to take the special walk with the help of state-of-the-art technology developed in Japan -- giving her a day she will never forget. In the video, the swimmer from Ware, Hertfordshire, smiled nervously as she took her'first' tentative steps. She went on to giggle when a bystander said'You're running, Grace.' Swimmer Ms Harvey holds the European record for the 200 metre (656 feet) Individual Medley and is presently the British number one in the 100 metre (328 feet) backstroke event. She is currently training in the city of Suzuka, Japan, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics in August.


2020 Olympics fuel race to monetize autonomous driving

The Japan Times

The driver, who got the bus humming with the push of a button, stayed behind the wheel but was hands-off most of the time, keeping intervention to a minimum. The bus, sporting an array of sensors and cameras, was limited to a maximum speed of around 30 kph. The bus completed the circuit from Gunma University to Shibukawa Station in about an hour, twice a day for nine days, as part of a pilot program set up by the school, a local bus line, the Gunma Prefectural Government and NEC. The aim: to achieve the government's goal of getting driverless vehicles up and running on Japan's roads by the end of the year. The move underlines the fact that self-driving vehicles are no longer a vision for the distant future, but just around the corner.


Toyota unveils upgraded version of its humanoid robot with greater sense of touch

The Japan Times

Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled an upgraded version of its human-shaped T-HR3 robot. The robot, which is controlled remotely by a person wearing a headset and wiring on his or her arms and hands, now has faster and smoother finger movements because the controlling device is lighter and easier to use. Such a robot could, in the future, be used to perform surgery in a distant place where a doctor cannot travel. It also might allow people to feel like they're participating in events they can't actually attend. In a recent demonstration in Tokyo, a person wearing a headset and wiring made the robot move in exactly the same way he was moving, waving or making dance-like movements.


Toyota reveals update of 'avatar' humanoid robot

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Toyota has revealed the next update of its T-HR3 humanoid'avatar' service robot ahead of next year's Olympic Games. The robot is capable of flexible movements that mirror the actions of its human operators up to six miles away, almost in real time. Using a 5G connection and a human controller connected to wiring and a VR headset, the new T-HR3 is now able to execute more difficult tasks than before. This includes walking in a smoother, more natural manner and even preparing drinks, as demonstrated at this year's International Robotic Exhibition in Tokyo. The new and improved T-HR3 – which was first launched in 2017 – grasps a cocktail shaker at this year's International Robotic Exhibition in Tokyo'Avatar robots like T-HR3, which possess an actual body, are capable of going beyond VR to physically influence the real world,' said T-HR3 Development Team Leader Tomohisa Moridaira.


Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido gambles on 'Made in Japan'

The Japan Times

The Japanese cosmetics industry faces huge competition not only from established players such as L'Oreal and Estee Lauder but increasingly also from the "K-beauty" craze coming from South Korea. Nevertheless, Japan is more than holding its own, with exports nearly quadrupling since 2013 to ¥546 billion ($5 billion), according to Finance Ministry figures, nearly two-thirds of that going to China and Hong Kong. The domestic industry is also benefitting from an explosion of inbound tourism in recent years ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- in particular a relaxing of visa requirements for Chinese tourists who lap up the latest Japanese cosmetic fads. Shiseido chief executive Masahiko Uotani said that a focus on the high end of the market and time-honored attention to detail set them apart from the foreign brands seeking to dominate globally. "We are focusing on prestige, premium brands. Consumers in those categories see the value of Japanese culture," said Uotani.


JR East's new Takanawa Gateway Station to feature robot guide and unstaffed convenience store

The Japan Times

East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday a robotic guide utilizing artificial intelligence and an unstaffed convenience store will feature at a new station slated to open in Tokyo in April 2020. JR East hopes to make Takanawa Gateway Station on the Yamanote Line a model for its future stations by using cutting-edge technology, officials said. The new station is expected to attract many visitors because a public viewing site will be established there for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The robot and digital signs will provide station information in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. The station will also employ autonomous patrol and cleaning robots on a trial basis until September next year.


Machine Beats Man

#artificialintelligence

You probably picture robots as clodhoppers: ponderous, clunky, even doddery droids that need caffeine, badly. But robots are on the brink of making giant strides. Just ask Columbia University engineering professor Hod Lipson, who writes in Nature that "young animals gallop across fields, climb trees, and immediately find their feet with grace after they fall"--and robots are set to follow suit. A new breed of speedy robots promises to eventually outdo the runners at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Notable cybernetic contenders include MIT's dominant Cheetah, Boston Dynamics' Petman and Handle, Michigan Robotics' MABEL, and--further afield in South Africa--the University of Cape Town's Baleka. Plus, that efficiency-geared Florida University powerhouse, the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), fields a smart, sensor-free biped plainly called Planar Elliptical Runner (PER).


Toyota Updates Concept-i, e-Palette Autonomous EVs For 2020 Tokyo Olympics Carscoops

#artificialintelligence

Toyota will roll out a fleet of approximately 3,700 vehicles for the 2020 Olympics, 90 percent of which will be electrified. The Japanese automaker says it aims to achieve "the lowest emissions target level of any official vehicle fleet used at the Olympic and Paralympic Games." Following the reveal of the Accessible People Mover (APM) specially designed shuttle, Toyota has released details about two models modified for the Olympics: the e-Palette and Concept-i electric vehicles. The e-Palette is battery-electric shuttle with Level 4 autonomous driving capability that supports smooth transport over short distances. It features a low-floor and electrically-operated platform that leaves little to no gap or opening between the curb and the bus at stops.


Toyota has plenty for robots to do during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The Japan Times

When athletes and organizers descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games, they'll be ferried around in autonomous cars, while torch relay runners will be accompanied by AI-equipped cars. Robots will ferry javelins and hammers. All told, Toyota Motor Corp. will provide 3,700 vehicles, including dozens of self-driving cars, about 500 fuel-cell vehicles and 850 battery-electric cars to the international sports competition. As a top sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics and an automaker facing a murky future when gasoline-powered engines will fade away, Toyota is doing everything it can to market its transition into an eventual provider of on-demand transportation for consumers and businesses, instead of being merely an industrial manufacturer. "We want to use the Olympics and Paralympics that happen every two years as a milestone," Masaaki Ito, general manager of Toyota's Olympic and Paralympic Division, said in an interview.


Toyota turns to AI startup to accelerate goal of robots for the home

#artificialintelligence

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has designs on making robot helpers for your home, and has enlisted a Japanese startup that specializes in artificial intelligence to jump-start its plan. Japan's biggest automaker and Tokyo-based Preferred Networks Inc will carry out joint research to develop so-called service robots that are "capable of learning in typical living environments", the companies said in statements on Wednesday. The two firms have already been collaborating on driverless vehicles since 2014. Eighty-year-old manufacturing giant Toyota is trying to transform itself and adapt to technology, such as ride-hailing and automated driving, that is disrupting the auto industry. Toyota sees robots as part of that effort, particularly in Japan, where it aims to have them in homes and hospitals to support one of the world's fastest ageing populations.