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Honda Launches Advanced Self-Driving Cars in Japan


Honda launched a self-driving car in Japan on Friday. Japanese automaker Honda has launched a limited roll-out of its new Legend, which it calls the most advanced driverless vehicle licensed for the road, in Japan. The Legend's capabilities include adaptive driving in lanes, passing and switching lanes in certain conditions, and an emergency stop function if a driver is unresponsive to handover warnings. The Legend's autonomy is rated Level 3 on a scale of 0 to 5; analysts said a true Level 4 vehicle, in which a car no longer requires a driver at all, is a long time off.

In wake of Japan disaster, scientists aim for faster and more accurate tsunami warnings

The Japan Times

Manchester – In the 10 years since the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake disaster, scientists have sought answers to a variety of questions relating to the deadly tsunami that began tearing through coastal communities just 15 minutes after the quake. Researchers have probed how a tsunami gathers height as it nears a shoreline and how this affects the damage it can cause. They've also begun to assess technologies for the early detection of tsunamis and improving tsunami observing systems across Japan. "The speed of a tsunami offshore is the same as a jet airplane and its speed inland similar to Usain Bolt," says Nobuhito Mori, a professor in the Coastal Disaster Research section of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University. While tsunamis are fast, they are not as fast-moving as the earthquakes themselves.

University of Tokyo: Artificial intelligence versus the brain


Our current era is now in the so-called third artificial intelligence (AI) boom. Professor Hirokazu Takahashi has been engaged in brain research using the techniques of reverse engineering, an approach that strives to shed light on the underlying structure of products by taking them apart. According to Takahashi, there are two types of intellectual cleverness, and fundamental differences distinguish our brains from artificial intelligence. In rat experiments, "futility" or "uselessness" is a key word that frequently comes into perspective. If we understand the features of the brain, is it not "futile" to be "uselessly" fearful of AI?

Sex Tape Satire 'Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn' Wins Berlinale Golden Bear

International Business Times

Romanian sex tape satire "Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn" by Radu Jude won the 71st Berlin film festival's Golden Bear top prize Friday. Israeli director Nadav Lapid announced the award, saying the movie had the "rare and essential quality of a lasting artwork". The festival, which was held entirely online, also awarded its first-ever "gender neutral" best acting prize to Germany's Maren Eggert for her performance in the sci-fi comedy "I'm Your Man". In the film by "Unorthodox" director Maria Schrader, Eggert is a museum researcher who signs up to test a humanoid robot, played by British actor Dan Stevens from "Downton Abbey", as a romantic partner. The runner-up best film gong went to Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi whose "Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy" is made up of three stories of women looking for connection in modern Japan.

Z Holdings leaders aim to boost Asia business

The Japan Times

Technology giant Z Holdings Corp. is aiming to boost its services in Asia, co-chief executive officers Kentaro Kawabe and Takeshi Idezawa said in a recent interview. Z Holdings, which brought messaging app provider Line Corp. under its wing for business integration Monday, will also make efforts to discuss ethical issues regarding the use of artificial intelligence, they said. Z Holdings, the parent of internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp., will mainly aim to expand Line's Asia operations. "It's difficult to win a market share with a messaging app," said Idezawa, also Line's president. He expressed interest in developing and releasing a "superapp" that covers interactions, shopping and other services familiar to people in Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan, where the Line app has already made inroads.

Honda will sell 100 of its level 3 self-driving Legend sedans in Japan


Late last year, Honda made a big pledge to become the first automaker to mass produce cars with level 3 self-driving. It's now making good on that promise by selling 100 of its Legend sedans that pack its Sensing Elite autonomous driving features, which allow the vehicle to take over the wheel to navigate congested highways, starting March 5 in Japan. But access to the latest tech won't come cheap: The limited-edition model will cost a cool 11 million yen ($103,000). With the car in control in heavy traffic, Honda says you'll be be able to kick back and watch TV or a DVD on the navigation screen, helping to ease the "stress" or "fatigue" that comes with navigating gridlock. The so called "level 3 Traffic Jam Pilot" option has the capabilities to control acceleration, braking and steering in certain conditions.

Honda to start offering world's first level-3 autonomous car on Friday

The Japan Times

Honda Motor Co. said Thursday it will start offering from Friday the revamped Legend sedan in Japan equipped with "level-3" autonomous technology as the auto industry faces intensifying competition to develop driverless vehicles and a collision-free society. It is the world's first vehicle to hit the market that allows the driver to engage in different tasks such as reading and watching TV when the car is in certain conditions such as congested traffic on expressways, the Japanese transport ministry said. But in the case of an emergency the driver needs to take full control of the vehicle. "Autonomous technology has the potential to reduce the driver's burden while eliminating human errors that cause traffic accidents," Yoichi Sugimoto, executive chief engineer of Honda R&D Co., said in an online press conference. Honda plans to offer 100 units domestically for a suggested retail price of ¥11 million ($103,000) that will only be available on a three-year lease.

Robot pets help ease virus isolation in Japan

The Japan Times

Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming during the pandemic. Smart home assistants such as Amazon's Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. "I felt my circle became very small," said 23-year-old Hamaura, a recent graduate who has worked almost entirely remotely since April 2020. With socializing limited, life in her first job at a Tokyo trading company was nothing like she had imagined. So she adopted Charlie, a mug-sized robot with a round head, red nose and flashing bow-tie, who converses with its owner in song.

Asia: Becoming a Powerhouse of Artificial Intelligence


There has been a rapid increase in the adoption and development of artificial intelligence across the globe. Business platforms are depending on AI for better growth, efficiency, and digital transformation. Cutting-edge technologies like 5G will escalate the use cases of AI across industries. According to McKinsey Global Survey 2020, 50% of respondents reported that their companies have adopted AI in at least one business function. The global leaders in AI adoption, research, and development include Asian countries like China, Singapore, and Japan.

Pets: Cats are 'too socially inept' to stand with their owners, study warns

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Unlike their canine counterparts, cats may be'too socially inept' to stand with their owners against someone treating their human poorly, a study has warned. Researchers from Japan found that our feline friends will as gladly take food from someone who hinders their owner as one who helps them or acts neutrally. However, this might not be a simple case of treachery, the team said -- instead, it is possible that cats cannot read human social interactions the same way dogs can. Domestic cats evolved from solitary hunters, meaning that they likely lacked the kind of original social skills dogs were able to build on during domestication. Unlike their canine counterparts, cats may be'too socially inept' to stand with their owners against someone treating their human poorly, a study has warned (stock image) In the study, animal behaviour scientist Hitomi Chijiiwa of Kyoto University and colleagues had cat owners try -- unsuccessfully -- to open a transparent container to take out an object while their cats watched.