Toyota Building a Prototype City in Japan


A FUTURISTIC city designed by Danish architecture practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and featuring autonomous cars, smart homes, artificial intelligence and other technologies is set to be constructed at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji. Above: The city will have substantial public spaces (image courtesy of Toyota). The so-called "City of the Future" prototype will be constructed on a 175-acre site by Toyota. Toyota will use its technologies to create a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The city will house over 2,000 full-time residents and researchers.

Lexus releases new concept for a zero-D lunar speeder bike and a new fleet of space-age SUVs

Daily Mail - Science & tech

This month, the European Advances Studio for Toyota and Lexus revealed seven new designs offering a glimpse at what the luxury car manufacturer's products might look if there was a commercial market for space vehicles. The designs were part of a new issue of Document Journal, which commissioned ten designers to create a'Lunar Portfolio,' imagining what life would be like on the moon. The featured design is called'Zero Gravity,' a single-rider style vehicle that uses a speculative magnetic levitation technology to power the vehicle as it speeds along just above the surface of the moon. 'The design reinterprets the signature Lexus spindle grille and uses the motorcycle-style of driving to employ the new concept of Tazuna (which mean "reins" in Japanese): the fundamental human-centered philosophy,' Lexus explained in a statement released alongside the new portfolio of designs. 'Inspired by how a single rein can be used to achieve mutual understanding between horse and rider, the steering control provides active driving enjoyment created by the direct communication between human and machine.'

Hyundai's Genesis unveils GX80, a breakthrough BMW rival


The Genesis GV80 luxury SUV has a lot riding on its broad shoulders. The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE rival carries the future of Hyundai's fledgling luxury offshoot in Australia and beyond. Expected to arrive locally mid-year, it joins the new Genesis G70 and G80 sedan duo to fill an important void for Hyundai's luxury brand. Its bold exterior design cues, including a bluff grille, 22-inch wheels and split LED lights will appear on its more conservative four-door cousins in the near future. The interior brings a choice of five or seven seats in the South Korean home market, along with a whopping 14.5-inch digital display stacked with technology to rival Europe's best.

Tesla has 780 million miles of driving data, and adds another million every 10 hours


Tesla's customers are also test drivers amassing an unprecedented dataset that the company hopes to use to design its self-driving cars. And it hopes to do this before other car companies test their own self-driving technology with paying customers. So far, the strategy seems to be working. Sterling Anderson, director of Tesla's Autopilot program, told MIT Technology Review's EmTech Digital conference this week that the company had recorded data from Tesla drivers who covered 780 million miles in the last 18 months. The company's Autopilot program, launched in 2014, is not fully autonomous, but it uses a suite of ultrasonic sensors, radar and cameras to steer, change lanes and avoid collisions, and has been described as the predecessor to the full automation Tesla says it will release in 2018.

Japanese Unicorn Preferred Networks Migrates Its DL Platform to PyTorch


Preferred Networks is migrating its deep learning research platform from its own open source framework Chainer to PyTorch. The Japanese artificial intelligence startup unveiled the plan last week, assigning its new Chainer V7 to a "maintenance phase" in advance of the move. Preferred Networks will provide documentation and a library for Chainer users to facilitate the transition to PyTorch. According to a Nikkei survey, Preferred Networks ranks No.1 on estimated corporate value among 181 Japanese startups, with an estimated valuation of JP¥351.5 billion (US$3.24 Japanese auto maker Toyota has been working closely with Preferred Networks since its founding in 2014 and has pumped more than JP ¥11 billion (US$101 million) into the company's deep learning, robotics and self-driving R&D.

Toyota makes a new $394 million bet on flying taxis

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – Toyota Motor Co. is making a $394 million (¥43.3 billion) investment in Joby Aviation, one of the handful of companies with the seemingly implausible goal of making electric air taxis that shuttle people over gridlocked highways and city streets. Toyota is the lead investor in Joby's $590 million Series C funding, alongside Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx and prior backers Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, SPARX Group and its own investment arm, Toyota AI Ventures. The deal, for now, makes the Santa Cruz, California-based Joby the best-funded "eVTOL" (electric vertical take-off and landing) startup in a booming category that must overcome significant regulatory hurdles and concerns about passenger safety and noise, bringing the total money it has raised to $720 million. "Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky," said Toyota President and Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda. "As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space, we tap the potential to revolutionize future transportation and life."

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


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.

LG to rival Honda in the race to develop an in-car voice assistant that parallels Siri or Alexa

Daily Mail - Science & tech

LG is throwing its resources behind developing a new breed of AI assistants that can be used to control aspects of cars. The Korean tech company said it has partnered with AI company Cerence to make an AI voice-assistant that is capable of being used to control various aspects of car's entertainment system, navigation, calling and more. That AI assistant, once completed, will eventually be integrated into the company's webOS software that, similarly to Apple CarPlay, powers computers inside vehicles. LG is planning on leasing its AI assistant out to auto manufacturers in search of an added dose of technology in their vehicles. The company's decision to enter the ring on developing an in-car voice assistant comes at a time when other major auto-manufacturers have also announced their intention to create similar products.

IBM doubles quantum volume in the race for computing supremacy


TechRepublic's Teena Maddox talked to Jamie Garcia, senior manager, Algorithms, Applications and Theory Team at IBM Research, at CES 2020 about about the quantum news that IBM has released this week and what's to come. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. Jamie Garcia: We just released news that we have achieved a 32-quantum volume, which is in line with us doubling our quantum volume every single year. Another one that just came out is that we hit a 100 partners in our IBM Q network. Teena Maddox: With the race for quantum computing, what does that mean when you've increased the volume?

Robots Take Retail


It sounds like a tagline for a science fiction film, but we need only look as far as the retail industry to see the truth in this statement. Robots have been with us for a while in retail, and technology powered through AI and machine learning to incorporate the voice of the customer to transform how retailers make product and pricing decisions is something I've been advocating for years. Amazon and many retailers are operating robots behind the scenes to help with inventory management. Walmart is building its robot army as well, and according to this ABI Research release, the company deployed 350 systems for inventory management across its stores in 2019 alone. As retailers look to trim costs and streamline operations, particularly along the supply chain, robots are only going to become more entrenched in retail's day-to-day operations, taking on greater roles and interacting with employees and consumers alike as AI becomes smarter.