Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Japan

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

Ken Okuyama's new vehicles on display at the Tokyo Motor Show

While you might not know who Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama is, you've no doubt seen his creations. The Japanese auto designer has worked with Pininfarina and General Motors, overseeing the design of cars such as the Ferrari Enzo and P4/5, the Honda NSX, and the C5 Corvette. He was also employed at Porsche, where he helped design the 996 and Boxster. At this year's Tokyo Motor Show, he's showing four vehicles that he created as part of his own Ken Okuyama Design brand. Three of them are intended for the road and/or track, while the other is made for the field.  Read More

The pick of the best concept cars at TMS 2013 at different, arrestingly beautiful, more ef...

If you love cars and motorcycles, the Tokyo Motor Show is one of those events which is always worth attending. It's home ground for 15 automakers, hundreds of automotive component manufacturers, and the highest concentration of R&D for every facet of public and personal transport in the world.  Read More

From left: the 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the prototy...

There is no better example of the rapid rate of product development than NSK's move into the area of robotics. At IREX 2011, NSK showed a prototype robot designed to safely guide the visually-impaired, with a footprint of 520 x 660 mm (20 x 26 in) and weight of 40 kg (88 lb). This week, just two years later, NSK showed two versions its Lighbot guide robot that represent a 75 percent weight reduction and an 83 percent footprint reduction. The ingenious right-or-left-hand-drive interface has been both replaced and improved, and all other aspects of the latest bots are equal to or better than the original.  Read More

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe riding in an autonomous drive Nissan Leaf  (Image: Nissan)

Autonomous cars took to the roads of Tokyo for the first time on Saturday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a passenger. The Prime Minister rode on the public roads in the National Diet Front Garden in a Nissan Leaf and autonomous cars built by Honda and Toyota. According to Nissan, Saturday’s drive was meant to show the Japanese government’s support for the development of autonomous cars, as was symbolized by the venue located between Japan's parliament and the Imperial Palace.  Read More

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