Japan


Toyota fetches new way to use AI, self-drive tech in Tokyo Games

The Japan Times

Miniature remote controlled cars have proved to be a crowd pleaser at track and field throwing events, but for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Toyota Motor Corp. is upping the game with a hi-tech way to fetch javelins and hammers: pint-sized, self-driving AI robot cars. The automaker Monday unveiled a prototype of its next-generation field support robot, a miniature shuttle bus-shaped contraption based on its "e-Palette" ride-sharing vehicle under development, to be used at the Tokyo Games. The vehicle, roughly the size of a toddler's ride-on toy car, can travel at a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour and sports three cameras and one lidar sensor which enable it to "see" its surroundings. Draped around the top of its body is a band of LED lights that illuminate when the vehicle uses artificial intelligence to follow event officials toward the equipment hurled by athletes onto the pitch during shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin events. After the equipment, which can weigh as much as eight kilograms for hammers, is loaded into the vehicle by the official, a press of a button located toward its front sends the car zipping back to athletes for later use.


Japan 'underdeveloped' in use of AI technology, says SoftBank's Masayoshi Son

The Japan Times

SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said Thursday that Japan has become an "underdeveloped" country in the use of artificial intelligence in businesses, lagging behind China, India and Southeast Asian countries that have fast-growing technology companies. "Japan once was a leader in technology but has become an underdeveloped country in AI. It is in a pretty bad situation so Japan needs to awaken," Son told an audience at a company event in Tokyo. Among the audience were Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of Indian hotel operator Oyo Hotels & Homes, and Anthony Tan, CEO of ride-hailing company Grab Holdings Inc. of Singapore. Oyo and Grab are among over 80 AI startups in which SoftBank Group's $100 billion Vision Fund has invested.


Japanese scientists use AI to detect gastric cancer early

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Scientists at Okayama University in Japan have developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based endoscopic diagnosis system for the early identification of gastric cancer. Early-stage gastric cancer can be treated using surgical gastrectomy procedures and endoscopic surgery (ESD), which can save the stomach. The use of endoscopy treatment or surgery is decided based the depth of cancer within the stomach wall. The treatment plan is decided after analysis of endoscopic images, said the researchers. To help in early detection of the cancer, the team developed a prototype of the AI endoscope using GoogLeNet to match purpose via the image identification capability of Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) published by Google on the MATLAB numerical analysis software.


Store featuring 'Astro Boy' creator Osamu Tezuka's manga characters opens in Tokyo

The Japan Times

A store themed around the work of "Astro Boy" manga artist Osamu Tezuka opened earlier this month in Tokyo's Asakusa district, putting an array of available products on display, from traditional Japanese crafts to artificial intelligence robots. The Tezuka Osamu Shop & Cafe is currently the only store, apart from the artist's memorial museum in western Hyogo Prefecture where he grew up, that sells character goods featuring his manga and anime, according to the shop's operator. With theme songs from his animation work playing in the background, the first floor displays approximately 300 types of merchandise, including wooden kokeshi (Japanese dolls) in the shape of characters including Astro Boy and his father figure Professor Ochanomizu, as well as ties featuring another masterpiece, "Phoenix," made in traditional Nishijin textiles. "Astro Boy" tells the stories of the adventures of a boy android with human emotions. The sci-fi manga series, serialized from 1952 to 1968 and also adapted into an animation series, has many fans in Asia and beyond.


Forget Fido, cuddly 'Lovot' promises to be high-tech pet replacement

The Japan Times

Experience life with an endearing, big-eyed robot with lifelike features -- including artificial body temperature and affectionate personality -- that is being marketed as an alternative to pet ownership in Japan. At an event for families that kicked off Tuesday, several Lovot robots developed by Tokyo-based venture Groove X Inc. frolicked with visitors to the EQ House facility in Tokyo's Roppongi district. Upon entering the exhibition room, one of the 43-cm robots wheeled over to reporters and flapped its arms, beckoning to be held. Just like pets, the Lovot (yes, a combination of love and robot) develops a varying degree of attachment to people depending on the amount of care provided, such as gentle stroking or a hug. Once administered, the Lovot will in turn follow people around and beg for physical contact as a sign of affection, though it will stay away from those who treat it violently, Groove X officials say.


Air conditioner manufacturer taps AI to choose parts for repairs:The Asahi Shimbun

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OSAKA--Summer spells fun for many, but not for air conditioner repair workers, who face incessant calls during the peak service period and often have to make repeated visits to fix a single problem. And since the average air conditioner has 2,000 or so components embedded inside, it's no easy task to figure out which parts they need to take with them when heading out on a repair call. To simplify life for those sweating to keep customers cool, leading air conditioner manufacturer Daikin Industries Ltd., based here, is relying on an artificial intelligence (AI) system to pick the parts. Few other firms in Japan are utilizing an AI system on such a large scale for repairs, Daikin officials said. As summer nears, the company's call center in Osaka's Chuo Ward begins being bombarded with calls from households and businesses requesting repairs.


Apple announces summer launch for HomePod in Japan

The Japan Times

Apple Inc. will launch its HomePod smart speakers in Japan this summer at a retail price of ¥32,800, according to its website, although the exact date has yet to be announced. On sale since February 2018 in the United States and a number of other countries, the artificial intelligence-enabled speakers have attracted interest for their sound quality and integration with Siri, Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant that responds to simple questions and commands. The tube-shaped speakers are 17 centimeters high and 14 cm wide. Inc. and Google LLC have also each developed smart speakers.


Full text of the G20 Osaka leaders' declaration

The Japan Times

We will work together to foster global economic growth, while harnessing the power of technological innovation, in particular digitalization, and its application for the benefit of all. We are resolved to build a society capable of seizing opportunities, and tackling economic, social and environmental challenges, presented today and in the future, including those of demographic change. This recovery is supported by the continuation of accommodative financial conditions and stimulus measures taking effect in some countries. However, growth remains low and risks remain tilted to the downside. Most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified. We will continue to address these risks, and stand ready to take further action. Fiscal policy should be flexible and growth-friendly while rebuilding buffers where needed and ensuring debt as a share of GDP is on a sustainable path. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central banks' mandates. Central bank decisions need to remain well communicated.


Japan health ministry panel OKs robotic telesurgery - The Mainichi

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A Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare expert panel has given the green light to remotely-controlled surgery using medical robots, opening the way for patients to get operations by highly-skilled doctors far away. The panel approved a draft amendment to the guidelines for online medical treatment on June 28 lifting the ban on robotic telesurgery. In response, medical societies concerned will set guidelines on detailed prerequisites for the operations, aiming for practical implementation within the coming years. Under the scheme, telesurgeries will be performed using the U.S.-made da Vinci Surgical System. The system has multiple arms equipped with endoscopes, scalpels, and other surgical necessities, and will even stitch up incisions.


Basketball robot Cue3 and B. League's Alvark Tokyo join Olympic effort to teach students math

The Japan Times

In an unusual combination of disciplines, a basketball-shooting robot created by Japan's leading automaker helped students at a Tokyo elementary school on Friday to learn math. The physically active math lesson was joined by professional players from the B. League's Alvark Tokyo basketball team as well as Cue3, a humanoid robot made by one of the team's major sponsors, Toyota Motor Corp. The special class was part of Tokyo 2020 Math Drill, a learning program that incorporates 55 official sports from the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics into math classes to provide fun learning opportunities. Sixth-graders at Fuchu Elementary School No. 10 in the city of Fuchu were divided into groups of 13 to 17 students. Each student shot the ball once and calculated the success rates for each group, making it an exercise in using fractions.