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Panasonic testing self-driving wheelchairs in airport

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Air travelers with disabilities will have a much easier time navigating one of Japan's main airports, thanks to new smart wheel chairs. Haneda Airport outside Tokyo is beginning tests of the WHILL NEXT, an app-controlled self-driving wheel chair that can take users around the airport and even bring their luggage in a separate wireless vehicle behind them. It is hoped the system will be in place, alongside new smart billboards and navigation apps, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Designed specifically for navigating crowded areas, the smart wheel chair also has several other features that make it perfect for airports, such as the ability to link to sensor-equipped luggage carts that automatically follow the wheelchair without getting lost. The WHILL NEXT uses sensors and image recognition to detect obstacles and navigate the airport.


Toyota is building a 'smart' city to test AI, robots and self-driving cars

#artificialintelligence

Carmaker Toyota has unveiled plans for a 2,000-person "city of the future," where it will test autonomous vehicles, smart technology and robot-assisted living. The ambitious project, dubbed Woven City, is set to break ground next year in the foothills of Japan's Mount Fuji, about 60 miles from Tokyo. Announcing the project at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda described the new city as a "living laboratory" that will allow researchers, scientists and engineers to test emerging technology in a "real-life environment." A digital mock-up shows small autonomous vehicles operating alongside pedestrians. "With people buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test AI technology, in both the virtual and the physical world, maximizing its potential," he said on stage during Tuesday's unveiling.


Self-Driving Wheelchairs Debut in Hospitals and Airports

IEEE Spectrum Robotics

Autonomous vehicles can add a new member to their ranks--the self-driving wheelchair. This summer, two robotic wheelchairs made headlines: one at a Singaporean hospital and another at a Japanese airport. The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, developed the former, first deployed in Singapore's Changi General Hospital in September 2016, where it successfully navigated the hospital's hallways. It is the latest in a string of autonomous vehicles made by SMART, including a golf cart, electric taxi and, most recently, a scooter that zipped more than 100 MIT visitors around on tours in 2016. The SMART self-driving wheelchair has been in development for about a year and a half, since January 2016, says Daniela Rus, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a principal investigator in the SMART Future Urban Mobility research group.


Toyota plans 175-acre Woven City in Japan as living tech test bed

#artificialintelligence

Toyota will build a 175-acre hydrogen-powered test city beginning next year at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji to study the interactions of a number of cutting-edge technologies, including autonomous transportation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The huge project, called Woven City, is being personally championed by Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda, who appeared Monday at CES here to discuss the plan. Woven City -- which will be roughly the size of Apple's circular campus in Cupertino, Calif., -- is being designed by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CEO of Bjarke Ingels Group and designer of Google's new headquarters, 2 World Trade Center in New York City and a number of other high-profile projects globally. The cost of the project was not revealed, but it is expected to be in the billions of dollars. Toyota says an estimated 2,000 people -- employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists and industry partners -- are expected to inhabit Woven City initially when completed.


Self-Driving Wheelchairs Debut in Hospitals and Airports

IEEE Spectrum Robotics

Autonomous vehicles can add a new member to their ranks--the self-driving wheelchair. This summer, two robotic wheelchairs made headlines: one at a Singaporean hospital and another at a Japanese airport. The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, developed the former, first deployed in Singapore's Changi General Hospital in September 2016, where it successfully navigated the hospital's hallways. It is the latest in a string of autonomous vehicles made by SMART, including a golf cart, electric taxi and, most recently, a scooter that zipped more than 100 MIT visitors around on tours in 2016. The SMART self-driving wheelchair has been in development for about a year and a half, since January 2016, says Daniela Rus, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a principal investigator in the SMART Future Urban Mobility research group.