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'Level 4' self-driving transit cars in Japan won't require licensed passengers: expert panel - The Mainichi


Highly automated "Level 4" self-driving vehicles should be held responsible for following traffic rules and be operable without the need for a human with a driving license, according to recommendations from a report by a National Police Agency (NPA) expert panel dated April 1. The panel's report on traffic rules for transportation services in limited areas such as on buses and electric-powered carts with level 4 autonomous driving technology recommends that while conventional laws require drivers to follow traffic rules, the responsibility to follow the rules in automatic vehicles falls on the driving system. In autonomous driving, the system chooses the best operation from information collected by the vehicle's cameras and sensors detecting its surrounding. The technology is split into levels 0 to 5 reflecting how much control the system has over a vehicle. Levels 0 through 3 have already been implemented with rules set, including revisions to laws such as the Road Traffic Act. The Japanese government divides autonomous vehicles into three forms -- mobile services like public transportation, private cars, and logistics services -- and has set differing implementation goals for each type.

Toyota, Isuzu to take stake in each other to co-develop new vehicles

The Japan Times

Toyota Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. said Wednesday they will take a stake in each other to jointly develop next-generation small-sized commercial vehicles with Toyota's subsidiary truck maker Hino Motors Ltd. Toyota said it will hold a 4.6% stake of all issued shares as of the end of September, worth ¥42.8 billion, in Isuzu through a third-party allotment, while Isuzu plans to acquire Toyota shares of the same value through a market purchase. The three companies said they will set up a joint venture named Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp. in April to co-develop small-sized electric and fuel-cell trucks as well as autonomous driving technologies for such vehicles. Toyota will have an 80% stake in the joint venture, while Isuzu and Hino plan to each hold a 10% stake. Toyota and Isuzu initially agreed on a capital tie-up in 2006 to jointly develop technologies for diesel engines, but it was dissolved in 2018 without any major achievements.

Robot Race: The World s Top 10 automated countries


The average robot density in the manufacturing industry hit a new global record of 113 units per 10,000 employees. By regions, Western Europe (225 units) and the Nordic European countries (204 units) have the most automated production, followed by North America (153 units) and South East Asia (119 units). The world s top 10 most automated countries are: Singapore (1), South Korea (2), Japan (3), Germany (4), Sweden (5), Denmark (6), Hong Kong (7), Chinese Taipei (8), USA (9) and Belgium and Luxemburg (10). This is according to the latest World Robotics statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). "Robot density is the number of operational industrial robots relative to the number of workers," says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics.

The Pastry A.I. That Learned to Fight Cancer

The New Yorker

One morning in the spring of 2019, I entered a pastry shop in the Ueno train station, in Tokyo. After taking a tray and tongs at the front, you browsed, plucking what you liked from heaps of baked goods. What first struck me was the selection, which seemed endless: there were croissants, turnovers, Danishes, pies, cakes, and open-faced sandwiches piled up everywhere, sometimes in dozens of varieties. But I was most surprised when I got to the register. At the urging of an attendant, I slid my items onto a glowing rectangle on the counter. A nearby screen displayed an image, shot from above, of my doughnuts and Danish.

Toyota Is Using Artificial Intelligence To Build A New City


Toyota, one of the biggest automobile manufacturers is employing artificial intelligence to make a futuristic city for 2,000 staff members and families. Yes, of course, the city will be powered by robots as well. The city will be governed by an operating system and will have roads dedicated for self-driving vehicles to carry on without any hassle. Toyota has begun laying the foundation for a 175-acre smart city in Japan. The company says that artificial intelligence and futuristic technologies will act as a'living laboratory" which raises many eyebrows. Being built at the base of Mount Fuji, the "Woven City" will be situated approximately 62 miles from Tokyo. The aim of building such a city is to serve as a testing ground for modern technology that can be established across other urban environments like robotics, AI, and interconnected smart homes. Toyota announced this futuristic project at CES 2020 in January last year. The company had said that the city will have three types of roads which will be connected at the ground level – one road for pedestrians, one for pedestrians using their personal vehicles like e-scooters, and one road just for self-driving cars. While these roads will be for the public, the city will also have one conventional road underneath the city that will be used to move goods. In 2018, Toyota launches its self-driving vehicle, the e-Palette which is expected to be the Woven City project's main transport. Toyota said that their e-Palette is "scalable and customizable" for various functions like ride-sharing, delivery services, mobile offices, and even hotels. The 2,000 staff and families will live in smart homes with AI technology and various integrated robotic systems to assist everyday life and sensor-based artificial intelligence to monitor people's health and other basic needs. The project is divided into phases and the first phase will have about 360 residents of varying age groups, rising to 2,000 including a few Toyota employees and their families along with scientists and inventors who will keep checking the effectiveness of the technological solutions. Toyota has said "encouraging human connection will be an equally important aspect of this experience.

Toyota VC invests in AI startups, firms that refine everyday processes


TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp's first venture capital fund is investing in startups that help the Japanese automaker refine everyday processes by bringing sharper supply-chain management and robotics to the factory floor, a fund executive said. The Silicon Valley-based Toyota AI Ventures fund, with $200 million under management, has so far invested in 36 early-stage startups, including self-driving car software firm Nauto, factory video analytics company Drishti and air mobility firm Joby Aviation. Toyota, the world's largest automaker by vehicle sales, and many car companies such as Volkswagen AG are funnelling money into startups to help gain an edge in artificial intelligence as investor interest shifts to self-driving cars. For instance Toyota, which has dozens of factories around the world, wants to be able to quickly share the lessons learned at one plant across other plants so that efficiencies are maximised, Jim Adler, the founding managing director of the fund, told Reuters in an interview. "If you look at cloud computing, for example, and cloud robotics, and fleet learning, when one robot learns something, the rest of the robots automatically learn that thing," he said.

How Toyota thrives when the chips are down

The Japan Times

Beijing – Toyota Motor Corp. may have pioneered the just-in-time manufacturing strategy, but its decision to stockpile the chips that have become key components in cars goes back a decade to the Fukushima disaster. After the catastrophe severed Toyota's supply chains on March 11, 2011, the world's biggest automaker realized the lead-time for semiconductors was far too long to cope with devastating shocks such as natural disasters. The automaker came up with a business continuity plan (BCP) that required suppliers to stockpile anywhere from two to six months' worth of chips, depending on the time it takes from order to delivery, four sources said. That's why Toyota has so far been largely unscathed by a global shortage of semiconductors following a surge in demand for electrical goods under novel coronavirus lockdowns that has forced many rival automakers to suspend production, the sources said. "Toyota was, as far as we can tell, the only automaker properly equipped to deal with chip shortages," said a person familiar with Harman International, which specializes in car audio systems, displays and driver assistance technology.

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.

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.