At a factory south of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, robots have started sharing the work of quality-control inspectors, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a shift from Toyota's vaunted "go and see" system which helped revolutionize mass production in the 20th century. Inside the auto-parts plant of Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co. Ltd., a robotic arm picks up and spins a bevel gear, scanning its teeth against a light in search of surface flaws. The inspection takes about two seconds -- similar to that of highly trained employees who check around 1,000 units per shift. "Inspecting 1,000 of the exact same thing day-in day-out requires a lot of skill and expertise, but it's not very creative," Chief Executive Hiroshi Otsuka said. "We'd like to release workers from those tasks."
Nagoya – Komehyo Co., a Japanese recycle store operator, said Tuesday it will introduce an artificial intelligence-based system to appraise used brand goods. The system can tell whether an item is fake and identify the model number of a genuine item using pictures taken with a microscope and other means, according to the company. The introduction of the system will reduce the time needed for appraisal when buying used items from customers, Komehyo said. The company will start using the system at its main outlet in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, on Aug. 25. It plans to introduce the system at other outlets in and outside the country in stages.
NAGANO – Seiko Epson Corp., a major Japanese maker of printers and industrial robots, said Thursday it will make use of its paper recycling technology to start producing face masks from late May. Production will take place at two of its domestic plants and will eliminate the need to outsource masks for its employees. It has also decided to donate 5,600 face shields, planned to be used by its employees in Japan and abroad, to the prefectural government to help ease medical supply shortages. The company has not yet decided whether it will sell any of the masks it produces to general consumers. Seiko Epson's PaperLab recycling machine for offices produces paper from used paper without the need of any water.
WASHINGTON--A type of artificial intelligence called machine learning can help predict which patients will develop diabetes, according to an ENDO 2020 abstract that will be published in a special supplemental section of the Journal of the Endocrine Society. Diabetes is linked to increased risks of severe health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Preventing diabetes is essential to reduce the risk of illness and death. "Currently we do not have sufficient methods for predicting which generally healthy individuals will develop diabetes," said lead author Akihiro Nomura, M.D., Ph.D., of the Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Kanazawa, Japan. The researchers investigated the use of a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning in diagnosing diabetes.
In 1997, Hiroaki Kitano, a research scientist at Sony, helped organize the first Robocup, a robot soccer tournament that attracted teams of robotics and artificial intelligence researchers to compete in the picturesque city of Nagoya, Japan. At the start of the first day, two teams of robots took to the pitch. As the machines twitched and surveyed their surroundings, a reporter asked Kitano when the match would begin. "I told him it started five minutes ago!" he says with a laugh. Such was the state of AI and robotics at the time.
Japanese railway companies are turning to artificial intelligence to help tackle potential problems for their shinkansen bullet trains caused by accumulations of snow. West Japan Railway Co. is developing an AI system to gauge the amount of snow attached to Hokuriku Shinkansen trains that cut through Niigata, Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures adjacent to the Sea of Japan. The railway operator currently decides how many personnel to deploy for snow clearance a day beforehand, based on information from meteorological data providers and past experience, but it is often not very accurate. AI will gather data from images of trains that have accumulated snow while traveling, study weather conditions and predict the number of personnel necessary for clearance work. Test operations have proved positive so far and the system is set for full introduction next winter.
LAS VEGAS – Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it plans to build a prototype "city of the future" at the base of Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for autonomous cars, smart homes, artificial intelligence and other technologies. Toyota unveiled the plan at CES, the big technology industry show. The development, to be built at the site of a factory that is planned to be closed in Shizuoka Prefecture, will be called "Woven City" -- a reference to Toyota's start as a loom manufacturing company -- and will serve as a home to full-time residents and researchers. Toyota did not disclose costs for the project. Executives at many major automakers have talked about how cities of the future could be designed to cut climate-changing emissions from vehicles and buildings, reduce congestion and apply internet technology to everyday life.
During a natural disaster, the difference between life and death can come down to the availability of information that's fast, accurate and in a language you understand. Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture on Saturday before making its way north toward the Tohoku region, bringing ferocious winds and record-breaking rain. Left in its wake were flooded cities, overflowing rivers and at least 25 fatalities. Through it all, phones were buzzing with news about evacuation advisories and updates on the trajectory of the typhoon, but mostly in Japanese. In the wake of Typhoon Hagibis, voices on Twitter and other social media services criticized the lack of information distributed in other languages.
During a natural disaster, the difference between life and death can come down to the availability of information that's fast, accurate and in a language you understand. Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture on Saturday before making its way north toward the Tohoku region, bringing biting winds and record-breaking rain. Left in its wake were flooded cities, overflowing rivers and at least 19 people dead. Through it all, phones were buzzing with news about evacuation advisories and updates on the trajectory of the typhoon, but mostly in Japanese. In the wake of Typhoon Hagibis, voices on Twitter and other social media services criticized the lack of information distributed in other languages.
SHIZUOKA – Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Norishige Kanai on Wednesday visited a factory making models of humanoid robots from the anime series "Mobile Suit Gundam" which are slated to be launched into space. The project is part of an effort by Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to boost spirits ahead of the games. In the project, a satellite carrying models of Gundam and Zaku, piloted by the main character from the series and his rival, will be launched into space. Noguchi and Kanai visited the Bandai Hobby Center, which creates molds for the models, in the city of Shizuoka. They spoke with factory staff about special materials that can withstand the conditions in space, asking questions such as what happens when radiation and ultraviolet rays hit the models.