Tokyo showcases ‘smart mobility’


TOKYO: Enhanced interaction between cars, pedestrians and the infrastructure surrounding them—as well as other vehicles—will define motoring in the near future.

This is the message of the Japanese carmakers are announcing at the start of the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday, as they present their latest models and technologies to the global press. The biennial event—among the world’s most influential and Asia’s premier auto industry show—traditionally points the direction vehicles will evolve to in the next few years.

Japan is home to some of the biggest carmakers in the world, including Toyota, which has overtaken General Motors as the number one auto company globally in terms of sales.

Some of the technologies that will hallmark the “next-generation” vehicles are systems that will detect pedestrians who may get in the path of an oncoming car. Carmakers are also bringing out models capable of “autonomous driving,” or those that can “communicate” with other vehicles, and specially designed “smart” road networks so these can travel without the input of a driver—similar to auto pilot mode for aircrafts.

Last week, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sampled some of such vehicles around the National Diet Building, marking the first time autonomous driving cars are rolled on Japan’s public roads. Previous tests were held on closed-off highways.

Future vehicles can also hook up with smart houses and appliances to access certain functions, or in the case of some hybrid cars, symbiotically supply energy. The cars can plug in household sockets to charge their batteries, or use their stored energy to power household appliances, as well as sell back electricity to the power companies.

Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda, also head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, noted that the Tokyo auto event’s theme follows those set by the recent CEATEC and ITS consumer electronics expo and technology summit, which were also held at the Japanese capital.

The Tokyo Motor Show will be opened to the public on November 22 and will run until December 1.


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