East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday it will accelerate and expand its plan to install security cameras on shinkansen and local trains in the wake of a recent deadly knife attack on passengers and increasing vandalism. The operator aims to equip 8,300 Tokyo area commuter train cars and 200 bullet train carriages with cameras. JR East said earlier this year that security cameras will be placed in trains running on Tokyo's Yamanote Line and all new train cars as they are introduced. The railway operator also plans to install security cameras in driver's cabins on some 2,500 cars in the capital region in response to a recent increase in break-in incidents resulting in equipment damage and theft. Some shinkansen and local cars have already been equipped with security cameras after a suicide blaze on a bullet train killed a passenger and injured dozens in 2015.
You might have noticed that many people like to take photographs when they travel. In fact, people who barely use their phone's camera in regular life are often eager to document the strange (to them) and wonderful landscapes, buildings, water features, art, nature, people, animals, and, of course, sunsets of a new location. There is something about leaving your everyday surroundings that forces you to pick up a camera and start snapping. It's a primal urge that cannot and will not be ignored. You can try and resist, but just when you think you've overcome the struggle, a pretty sight will catch your eye and then the next thing you know you're eight shots deep into a semi-professional photoshoot.
After Uber's fatal self-driving crash last month in Tempe, Arizona, most observers had two basic question: Why did the car not see Elaine Herzberg crossing the street and stop before hitting her? And how can we stop this happening again, to someone else? The ride-hailing company has indefinitely suspended its testing program, and is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the crash. The NTSB hasn't revealed any findings yet, but the lidar--the laser-shooting sensor that should have spotted Herzberg, even in the dark--is an obvious focus. Maybe it had a blind spot, or lacked the resolution to identify Herzberg as a pedestrian.
It'll take a long while before the camera is practical, but its size extends its potential uses well beyond medicine. Researchers envision extremely tiny robots that can still visualize the world around them, or self-driving cars whose cameras are virtually invisible. You could also have 360-degree smartphone cameras that take up very little space. And importantly, it takes very little effort to make these lenses -- the Stuttgart team designed and tested its camera in a few hours. Microscopic cameras certainly raise privacy concerns (there's a real risk that people would misuse these cameras for snooping), but they also hint at a world where size isn't an obstacle to smarter devices.