A testbed for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars


From touchscreen vending machines to interactive robots, Japan is where the future exists in the present. “Society 5.0” was presented as a core concept in the 5th Baseline Science and Technology Plan, which was approved by the Japanese cabinet in January 2016. It was identified as a core part of Japan’s future growth strategy in 2017.

Under the vision of Society 5.0, Japan wants to create a highly efficient economic model by making a number of technological innovations (such as AI, IoT, etc.) tightly integrated into physical space. Experts claim the Society 5.0 initiative will enable the Japanese government to move their country further into the information age into a more tech-savvy, prosperous, and sustainable era.

Society 5.0 – past and future

Source: Ben Sweet / Unsplash

Society 5.0 was designed as part of Japan’s efforts to overcome the economic stagnation that resulted from the fall in stock and property prices in 1991. The period from 1991 to 2001 is considered a “lost decade” for the Japanese economy, when the country saw a sharp decline in GDP and real wages. Many economists still use the term ‘Japaneseization“To denote long-term economic stagnation and deflation.

The Society 5.0 idea was first presented to the Japanese government in 2016 along with the Fifth Basic Science, Innovation and Technology (STI) plan. The sixth STI plan, adopted in April 2021 by the government to further promote and advance development activities aligned with the Society 5.0 vision.

Japan 5.0: A test environment for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars
Source: Andy Kelly / Unsplash

Japan looks forward to stimulating its economy by driving significant developments in sectors such as healthcare, finance, logistics and infrastructure, however its aging population (28.7% of Japanese people are over 65 years old) is a major hurdle to meet these ambitious goals. Society 5.0 hopes to intelligently address this problem by proposing the integration of digital world technologies into the real world in such a way that Japan’s economic development is driven by advances in high technology, not population growth.

Because of this, the Japanese government has decided to make heavy investments in sectors such as machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. above Japan plans to invest around 30 trillion Japanese yen ($ 225 billion) in various research and development programs over the next five years, with the industry also expected to invest 90 trillion yen. Another 10 trillion yen will be used to strengthen the top performing Japanese universities in global competition.

The country is also focused on making the most of AI and big data technology in its futuristic society, so plans to invest in around 2034 by 2034 $ 4 billion in the same segment.

How will Japan enter Society 5.0?

Japan 5.0: A test environment for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars
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Japan wants to use technology to transform its existing society into a safer, safer and more resilient society through the use of Society 5.0. To achieve this, the sixth STI encompassed three main principles:

1. Integration of cyberspace and physical space to carry out social and structural reforms.

As part of this policy, the government will adopt a data strategy that will promote digitization through AI and related technologies and promote carbon neutrality. The Japanese government has also created a Green Innovation Fund to ensure the country’s planned sustainable development.

The creation of a healthy startup ecosystem, smart cities and various other strategic innovation programs are also mentioned in this guideline as important steps in the development of a progressive society.

2. Increase research and create knowledge in order to shape an efficient new society.

In the sixth STI, Japan approved a massive JPY 10 trillion ($ 91 billion) fund for the country’s top universities to better compete with global research institutes.

Japan 5.0: A test environment for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars
Source: Cabinet Office, Government of Japan

The Japanese government will continue to support young researchers and scientists in the coming years so that new ideas and innovative technologies are monetized and become part of Society 5.0 and develop further.

3. An improved learning environment and human resources.

This will promote digital education and research in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields, allow universities to improve their educational ecosystem, and support human resource development in the country to strengthen the new society.

In order to achieve the goals of Society 5.0, the sixth STI also contains provisions to ensure rapid growth in the field of Supercomputers, Quantum mechanics, 5G, space technology and semiconductors.

What changes would society 5.0 bring?

Japan 5.0: A test environment for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars
Source: Kindel Media / pexels

Society 5.0 shows great potential for balanced economic development in the country and hopes to change the Japanese lifestyle forever in many ways:

In the proposed model, biometric data collected daily from users, e.g. the elderly, could be used to inform users of their risk of developing an illness or complication due to an existing illness. VR surgery simulators will enable doctors to advanced diagnosis, plus deep learning, which is useful in diagnostic imaging, will also enable early disease detection.

That being said, Japan’s aging population requires good care and medical care, and robots are being developed to work as nurses to manage some of the care of Japan’s aging generation. The online availability of patient records and other medical data would make the treatment more effective.

Autonomous driving technology will lower accident rates, save time and lead to a smoother and more efficient traffic experience in society 5.0. From trains to taxis to buses and cars, everything will be controlled by intelligent autonomous systems at some point.

In addition, a regulatory sandbox system will enable automotive companies to manage their self-driving vehicles comfortable and spacious.

In Society 5.0, AI and robotics would assist humans in performing various tasks ranging from normal household chores to large-scale industrial operations like building roads or dams.

AI-based wearable devices will be able to monitor users and even adjust their body functions for optimal performance.

Japan 5.0: A test environment for humanoid robots, 5G and autonomous cars
Source: Cabinet Office, Government of Japan

IoT would be used extensively in sports, entertainment and other industries for sharing data and developing better versions of existing technological applications.

There are also plans to increase the use of blockchain technology and spread application programming interfaces (API) in the fintech sector. These changes would increase efficiency of the banking system in Japan.

With the extensive knowledge of the industrial age, Society 5.0 seeks to bridge the gap between digital space and the real world. This human-centered social model not only favors the intelligent use of energy, but also promises great hopes for the future.


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