Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!

JTFF - Japanese Technology from the Future Friday! - AkihabaraNews.com

This week it’s automobile autopilot by Toyota, which means it’s a shame that Japan’s so small, i.e., road trip options are limited, and then it’s Honda, an early hybrid pioneer who’s fallen by the eco-friendly wayside. Hey, weren’t we just talking about these two companies’ robots earlier today?

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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.

:: JTFF – October 11, 2013 ::

• Toyota’s Autopilot - Japanese Road Trip Naptime is a Go?
We covered Toyota’s Lexus-branded Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle earlier this year in “Japan’s Robot Cars: Where’s this Road Going.” As we mentioned at the time, the AASRV (finally an unintentional acronym out of Japan) was the latest testbed for Toyota’s Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA) technology (that acronym smells intentional). In practice, what the Lexus and eventually all Toyota cars are supposed to do is collision avoidance, stay between the line, and through communicating with other vehicles, monitor traffic situations, alleviate congestion, and keep the car and driver aware of other pertinent info. Note that this would be highway-only for now and some years to come, though implementation is projected just a few years out. Okay, good job, Toyota - that’s all fine and good and awesome, but how do you get that into enough cars? Does it require a lot of cars? Sure, there are plenty of Toyotas on the road over here, probably a plurality, but... even in the practically impossible case of a mass retrofitting AND fitting other brands, is that enough? Toyota, you’re going to have some explaining to do. Luckily for you, AkihabaraNews is going to the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress 2013 next week, here in beautiful Tokyo. “ITS.” Nice acronym.

• Honda’s Planning to Fight the Hybrid Fight in America (again)
About 13 years ago, the hybrid car conflict between Toyota and Honda involved small, Japan-focused skirmishes. As the vehicles improved, and then made it over into the U.S. market, it became an all-out war. As we now know, even though Honda was first to the U.S. market, the Insight didn’t exactly take off, and it wasn’t long before Toyota completely crushed Honda’s hybrid brand. Sure, Honda has continued selling hybrids in the U.S., but Toyota built the Prius into a globally iconic symbol of environmentally sound automaking, and ownership of one became a badge of honor amongst image conscious environmentalists who still wanted to drive. By the way, if you ever want to mess with a Prius owner, do some research on the environmental impact of what goes into making Prius batteries; describe your findings to the owner, and then observe the wilting ego of a neo-pseudo-hippy learning that, taken as a whole, a Hummer has a smaller environmental footprint than a Prius. But avoid doing that to a spouse. Anyway... So, Honda wants back into the game, and they’ve got a sexy new engine they’re going to stick into the Accord, the best selling Honda in North America (and also push the hybrid Fit). They hope that’ll get their ball rolling... faster. After all, Toyota shouldn’t get ALL the smug.

Wow, our Japanese robotics piece from earlier today, also starring Toyota and Honda, was like, almost the opposite of all this. Huh.

That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.

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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.