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Is space-based solar power the answer to our energy needs? JAXA envisions solar satellites...

Space-based solar power seems like an idea from a Star Trek script, but given the uncertain future of its power generation industry, Japan stands to gain as much as anyone by exploring this potential source of renewable energy. The disaster at Fukushima, limited access to fossil fuels and advances in technology has, at least in the eyes of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), added further weight to the notion of a space-based solar power system. The agency is developing a complex roadmap involving a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor which could be used collect solar energy in space and supply power to Earth by 2040.  Read More

One ideal location for the SAFE+ Shelter is within an existing parking space outside a hos...

The events of March 11, 2011 are still very much in the minds of the Japanese people and it's no surprise that we've seen a number of tsunami safety pod designs emerge in the years since. This example from the Tajima Motor Company, the Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+, aims to provide a last resort option for emergency workers who have left it too late to escape. The company plans to produce 1000 units in 2014, with the aim of doubling that to 2000 in 2015.  Read More

The Kawasaki 650 Ninja and the Ninja

Held at the end of March each year, the annual Tokyo Motorcycle show is a "hands on handlebars and bums on saddles" kind of event which, as well as being a world showcase for the latest innovations from local manufacturers, aims to function as a shop window and proving ground for the millions of motorcyclists in Japan. So while Honda's 750cc NM4 Vultus was the star of the show, there were plenty of other new and interesting machines for crowds to get astride and even ride. Here's a look at some of the highlights.  Read More

Panasonic's Resyone robotic bed transforms into an electric wheelchair (Photo: Gizmag)

There's a lot of talk about Japan's rapidly aging society, and how it is expected to literally place a heavy burden on the island nation's caregivers. Among the many projected problems is a smaller pool of health care workers amidst a growing tide of elderly who require around-the-clock care. With that kind of workload, nurses are more likely to injure themselves or their patients when lifting them into and out of bed. Various solutions are in the works, such as a giant lifting robot that looks like a teddy bear, but few are as practical as Panasonic's Resyone robotic bed. It recently became the first to be certified ISO13482 compliant, the new global safety standard for service robots.  Read More

Fujitsu's newly-developed speech synthesis system can produce voices to suit different sit...

Speech synthesis has come a long way from the days when computers sounded like a Dalek with a cleft palate, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. in Kawasaki, Japan are working to move computers away from sounding monotone or perpetually distracted by developing a new speech synthesis system that can quickly produce high quality voices that can be tailored to suit individual environments and circumstances.  Read More

The Imai House, by architectural firm Katsutoshi Sasaki and Associates (Photo: Katsutoshi ...

When designing a small home for a family, it's only possible to downsize so much. One might fairly guess that a house with a total width of 3 meters (10 ft) would be pushing things too far, but Imai House, by architectural firm Katsutoshi Sasaki and Associates, offers a good argument to the contrary. The home is also an example of how apparently too-small inner-city plots can be put to good use.  Read More

The GPM Core Observatory is launched aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima S...

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched last Thursday aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket that blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. Weighing in at 4-ton, the GPM is the largest spacecraft ever built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and will help provide a more detailed picture of the Earth's precipitation to assist climate scientists and help improve forecasting of extreme weather events.  Read More

Artist's impression of the GPM Core Observatory due to launch on February 27th (Image: NAS...

NASA is set to launch a new satellite designed to take detailed, near real-time measurements of rain and snowfall on a global scale whilst mapping the interior of storm systems. The Core Observatory of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) has been in development since 2005 and is a collaboration project between NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). The satellite is due to be launched on the Japanese manufactured H-IIA delivery vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Centre, Tanegashima Island, Japan, on February 27.  Read More

Nissan's Autonomous Drive Leaf hits the public highway for the first time

Two weeks after taking Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a short drive around the National Diet Front Garden in central Tokyo, the Leaf packing Nissan's Autonomous Drive (AD) technology has hit the public highways for the first time.  Read More

The Gundam-inspired 'Niigata model' Hiriko folding electric car mockup at the Tokyo Motor ...

One of the standout oddities at the Tokyo Motor Show this year was a Hiriko fold-up electric two-seater which received a Gundam-style makeover courtesy of Kunio Okawara, the legendary mechanical designer responsible for a veritable shopping list of mecha designs.  Read More

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