Japan made a phenomenal recovery in the post war period and by 1964 was holding events like the Olympics in a modern city of that time complete with world class infrastructure. The main symbols of this were the bullet trains (Shinkansen), the newly built Tokyo Tower and yes DRIVER-LESS MONORAIL.
The 2020 Olympics will see Hydrogen powered cars but there is one more area in automobile innovation which is drawing a lot of investment.
Autonomous Drive, or self driven cars which Google has already piloted its proprietary car (hardware) and autonomous capabilities (software) on Californian roads is gaining a lot of action courtesy the Olympics and the local players want to make the most of the opportunity.
Existing Players : NISSAN
The 2020 Olympics seems to be accelerating the trend for self driven cars and it was evident whrn I was at the Nissan Gallery in Yokohama the other day and “Autonomous Drive” was a big footprint in the gallery. Prototype models already on display which can do basic maneuvers for highway style traffic. Would be so awesome to sit in one of these and let the car do its own thing (drive)!!!!
New Players : DENA and ZMP
Innovation in this space is getting interesting with gaming company DeNA also jumping into the fray with a Japanese robotics company names ZMP, they are said to have been developing robot car platforms, sensors and camera technologies for years.
Setup on May 29, 2015, with a capital of 7 million yen and shareholding of DeNA:66.6% ZMP:33.4%, a new company Robot Taxi with a vision from DeNA Senior vice president Hiroshi Nakajima, “Our dream is to have some unmanned taxis for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which would impress people everywhere”, has been launched.
Watching a video on Youtube on car detection via a machine learning algorithm on the Tokyo Expressway gives an insight on what’s in store. Really hope the Japanese auto industry takes the next step in a space which Google already dominated today.