There may not have been any fans in the Olympic Stadium, but Japan still found a way to put on a show for the opening of the 2020 Summer Games. The host country charmed early with the parade of nations, which featured an orchestrated video game soundtrack, and then showed off the type of creativity it's known for with a performance involving the Olympic pictograms. But Tokyo saved the biggest spectacle for last. Towards the end of the ceremony, a fleet of 1,824 drones took to the skies above the Olympic Stadium. Initially arrayed in the symbol of the 2020 Games, they then took on the shape of the Earth before a rendition of John Lenon's "Imagine," which was reworked by Hans Zimmer for the Olympics, played across the stadium.
Mobileye, a subsidiary of Intel, has expanded its autonomous vehicle testing program to New York City as part of its strategy to develop and deploy the technology. New York City joins a number of other cities, including Detroit, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo, where Mobileye has either launched testing or plans to this year. Mobileye launched its first test fleet in Jerusalem in 2018 and added one in Munich in 2020. "If we want to build something that will scale, we need to be able to drive in challenging places and almost everywhere," Mobileye president and CEO Amnon Shashua said during a presentation Tuesday that was streamed live. As part of the announcement, Mobileye also released a 40-minute unedited video of one of its test vehicles equipped with a self-driving system navigating New York's city streets.
Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor unveils their new violin-playing robot at the company's showroom in ... [ ] Tokyo, 06 December 2007. Toyota unveiled three mobile robots, one called a "partner robot", one that plays the violin and a third which can transport a passenger with two wheels. IoT or the Internet of Things has been widely deployed in the past decade as sensors became smarter, machine learning proliferated and advanced, access to WiFi, Bluetooth and other wireless communications became prevalent, and cloud storage and computing technologies matured. In general, IoT achieved intelligent networking of "things" that were typically static or stationary, through movement of data. The ongoing and imminent revolution is in the Autonomy of Things or AoT - which for purposes of this article is defined as autonomous movement of "things" or robots, either in public (mostly uncontrolled), semi-public (somewhat controlled, includes outer space) or private (highly controlled) spaces.
The Olympic Games may be taking place a year late because of the pandemic, but it will still be a chance for host nation Japan to show off its world-class robotics technology. And despite spectators being kept away from the events by Covid restrictions, there will still be a string of robotic participants to help run the Tokyo Games. Japanese automaker Toyota has developed a suite of robots that will be deployed at the Games, but which are designed to show off their wider everyday applications. "The Tokyo 2020 Games are a unique opportunity for us to display Japanese robot technology," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, who is the leader of the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project. "This project will not simply be about exhibiting robots, but showcasing their practical real-life deployment helping people.
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Riken, Japan, have gained new insight into how we perceive and interact with the voice of various machines. The team performed a meta-synthesis, and their findings provide new information about human preferences, which engineers and designers can use to develop future voice technologies.
Will a boom follow Covid-19? A century ago the 1920s saw creative energies explode after the tragedies of the Spanish Flu and World War I. In big cities such as New York, London, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo, economic growth was palpable. New technologies such as cars and radios became common. So did a risk-on optimism.
TOKYO--Having a robot read scripture to mourners seemed like a cost-effective idea to the people at Nissei Eco Co., a plastics manufacturer with a sideline in the funeral business. The company hired child-sized robot Pepper, clothed it in the vestments of Buddhist clergy and programmed it to chant several sutras, or Buddhist scriptures, depending on the sect of the deceased. Alas, the robot, made by SoftBank Group Corp., kept breaking down during practice runs. "What if it refused to operate in the middle of a ceremony?" said funeral-business manager Osamu Funaki. "It would be such a disaster."
Japan's robotics market is booming thanks to the need to avoid in-person contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for robotics was led by manufacturers before the pandemic, but customers have been increasing among service businesses such as logistics and medical firms. The surge in robotics demand has led to a boost in manufacturers' investment in advanced technologies such as image processing and artificial intelligence to achieve remote control services. The robotics market is expected to grow from around ¥1 trillion in 2010 to some ¥10 trillion in 2035, according to an estimate by the industry ministry. In particular, demand from the service sector is likely to grow over 13-fold, overtaking that for factory automation equipment.
In an online list of the world's wackiest vending machines; compiled by Fodor's Travel, Japan got the nod for 3 out of 13 -- those selling beer, fresh eggs and bananas. The Fodor's list failed to impress this writer, who has seen machines with considerably wackier offerings. Some years ago, for instance, I spotted a machine that enabled people to automatically wash, rinse and dry their dogs. The appearance of original vending machines does warrant media coverage, which is certainly the case for Dohiemon, a new type of vending machine that went into service earlier this year. Preceding it with "do" and adding "mon" at the end creates a clever parody of Doraemon, the blue robot cat of cartoon fame.
Pepper the robot is taking early retirement. The humanoid's maker, Japan's SoftBank Group, has reportedly stopped producing Pepper due to weak demand. Pepper had been touted as the harbinger of a robotics revolution, but the droid's early demise show it couldn't quite live up to the hype. Attend the tech festival of the year and get your super early bird ticket now! Pepper nonetheless made a mark on the public during the android's six-year run.