“There is no city more suitable than Tokyo as a place in which the future of mobility will be decided. Let us witness the moment in which the most influential ideas are born.”. With that catchphrase, the official joint event of the Tokyo Motor Show, the FUTURE MOBILITY SUMMIT 2017, was opened. This time, we will be reporting about this event.
「FUTURE MOBILITY SUMMIT 2017」（From the left: Mr. Gohar, Ms. Hoshino, Mr. Purba, Mr. Shimizu, Mr. Takahashi）
Several days ago, on October 24th, the FUTURE MOBILITY SUMMIT 2017 was opened in Ryogoku Kokugikan. At the event, a panel discussion was held as “a place where the mobility of the future can be imagined” and “a place in which top experts in the automobile industry and the advance technology industry meet and discuss ideas geared towards a mobility of the future and an ideal town architecture, especially the architecture of Tokyo”.
Sessions on 6 different themes were held, but we would like to present 2 sessions among them which FRI found especially notable.
■The Future of Cities : Urbanization and Mobility
First, Mr. Kian Gohar, the moderator, gave an opening address.
“Together with the evolution of technology, human ways of transportation continue to evolve. However, the desire which humans hold, ‘I want to travel’, doesn’t change. What will the mobility of the future turn out to be?”
According to Mr. Gohar, there are 4 issues that must be resolved when thinking about the mobility of the future.
Moderator Kian Gohar
1) Urban planning: It is expected that, by the year 2050, most people will be living in the city. When people continue to move to the city like this, the amount of traffic, naturally, increases as well. Urban planning is closely connected to mobility, but, if one is to talk about the future of mobility, one must consider the future of urban planning, too.
2) The discharge of CO2: Taking measures against environmental pollution, that is, considering how to reduce the amount of CO2 being discharged. Various technologies, like hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles (EV), have been created up until now, and the amount of CO2 discharged due to mobility is decreasing, but it is an issue one must continually confront.
3) Accidents: The cause of 90% of traffic accidents is said to be human error. How can the mobility of the future reduce this?
4) An aging society: People will want to go to places far away, regardless of their age. However, the current means of transportation for the elderly are limited.
Gohar says that there are three things mobility can do when faced with these issues.
1) Switching to electric vehicles: They are safe, ecologically friendly, and convenient. By 2030, they will have become cheaper than gasoline cars, and, by 2035, a larger amount of electric vehicles will have been sold, and the ratio of gasoline cars will decrease drastically. However, we need to think about this in a global framework.
2) Automatic driving: According to a certain study, 37% of people who wanted to buy a car answered that they would rather opt for cars with automatic driving if they existed. Hope for cars with automatic driving is big.
3) Increasing services: For example, the bicycle sharing service is advancing rapidly in Beijing. It is said that the amount of gas discharge in Beijing has even decreased due to this.
Alongside this, on-demand delivery services one can use individually should also be considered.
Using this speech by Mr. Kian Gohar as a starting point, the speakers exchanged their opinions.
Professor Shimizu, from the Tokyo Metropolitan University, talked about the Olympics in Tokyo being a big chance. At the London Olympics, the world “legacy” was in the center of attention, and it became an event through which the way of thinking about the institutions and infrastructure the Olympics leave behind changed, and the Tokyo Olympics are a chance to experiment with various city plans on mobility. He considered that insight as being able to have a great influence on urban development in Asia.
Mr. Purba, an officer in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Indonesia, talked about cities in Indonesia, like Jakarta, with high population density, as when compared to the environment in Tokyo, in which the special qualities of the railway are put to use. In Indonesia, the number of bicycles increased following the population increase, and, when compared to other things, sharing services have also become an astounding thing. Moreover, this height of population density is connected directly with urban issues, and economic losses due to floods and congestions, as well as environmental destruction due to waste disposal, are occurring.
Mr. Takahashi, the president of Uber Japan, talked about there being a need to heighten our awareness that car sharing is the best transportation method in places in which it exists, and that, in order to do that, constructing a platform through which anybody can easily access a car sharing service is an important task. Among other things, he said that there is a possibility that there will be a lack of people to drive even if the sharing service spreads, so it is probable that not only the sharing service, but two types of cars, including cars with automatic driving, will come into wide use.
Ms. Hoshino, Senior Vice President of the Nissan Motor Corporation, said how automobile manufacturers are focusing on electric vehicles and automatic driving, as a solution to traffic jams and accidents. Because of that, Nissan is advancing with the mass production of LEAF. Moreover, regarding DeNA and robot taxies, she said that demonstration experiments are being planned to test what services can be provided with automatic driving. As population aging has progressed in Japan, the problem of the “one last mile” has become important, and, taking that into consideration, they are performing demonstration experiments while collaborating with the cities. Finally, she concluded her speech by saying that we are about to enter an age extremely exciting for car manufacturers.
Mr. Kian Gohar, the moderator, and Prof. Jun Rekimoto from the University of Tokyo, the speaker, held a discussion.
Prof. Jun Rekimoto The University of Tokyo
Prof. Rekimoto is researching Human Augmentation. It is a field which inquires how technologies, including AI, increase and expand human abilities. Prof. Rekimoto thinks that, in the near future, technology will merge with humans, and a network environment, through which abilities of each individual can be used, transcending spatial and temporal bounds, will be created, and he calls it IoA (Internet of Abilities).
「IoA（Internet of Abilities）」image
First, humans have become able to see and experience physically distant things by sending a drone and looking at its viewpoint through VR goggles. When another person wears the drone or attaches it to the body, you can share the same experience. Prof. Rekimoto calls that state of sharing an experience “jack-in”.
However, he says that, for this kind of experience, the help of AI is needed. For example, let’s say that you did a big rotation with an iron bar. When you look at the video of it, it spins around and around, and you can’t understand what’s going on. The person doing the rotation is looking at the rod, and it’s only the scenery around him that changes. That is where AI supplements it to be the viewpoint which the person doing the rotation experiences. By doing that, people can experience the experiences of others in reality, through a virtual connection.By applying this state of “jacking-in”, one can think of extremely realistic sports broadcasts or travel footage.
Various ways of applying that can be imagined. For example, person A puts on VR goggles, and person B wears the drone. By putting a monitor on this drone, and having it show the face of person A, you can make person B into an avatar. By having person A instruct this person B, you can be present at a meeting in another place, hold presentations and have debates. It is a sensation just like teleportation. Of course, B can be either a person or a robot.
If we were to state it from the viewpoint of virtual mobility, you can do something like live in the country and work in the capital city, while being physically removed from it. Prof. Rekimoto says how this can combat various issues of centralization in the cities and such.
■Writer’s notes – Participating in the summit
Mobility is one solution for the issues of urbanization and population density, but it is not something that can be resolved only at an automobile market.
Businesses like DeNA have participated in the development of technologies like EV, and, as for the sharing services, the achievements of startup companies like Uber are something which can serve as a reference.
Moreover, it is possible that this newly-born mobility will have the aspects of gaming, and that transportation will come to have elements of entertainment.
There is a feeling of entrapment when talking about this only at an automobile market, but, the theme of mobility is something which connects cities, people and entertainment, and it is a field packed with dreams.
We will continually pay attention to this theme.
FUTURE MOBILITY SUMMIT 2017
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.