The upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo will be the most technology-inspired sporting event that the world has seen to date, and it is generating a lot of enthusiasm domestically. The games hold particular importance in Japan as the country will have the opportunity to showcase many innovations. Hopefully, this will lead to another economic boom like the one that followed the 1964 games, also in Tokyo. Many Japanese companies are feverishly preparing to demonstrate some of the technologies which will define the future. Here are three that will be particularly crucial at the upcoming event:
Self-Driving Cars — Japan is home to many of the world’s major automobile manufacturers, so it should come as no surprise that visitors can expect to see numerous self-driving cars during the games. The tech firm ZMP and taxi company Hinomaru Kotsu recently collaborated to start the world’s first commercial self-driving service in August 2018. They offer a minivan that travels a fixed route of 5.3km at a fare of 1,500 yen (about 13 USD). A driver is still in the vehicle for safety reasons, and passengers can use a smartphone to unlock the car door and pay for the journey. Plans are underway to provide service from Tokyo to the city’s two airports in time for the Olympics.
Robots — Japan’s long-standing love affair with robots is well known, and as it happens, the country’s declining population and subsequent labor shortage have created a strong demand for automated workers. So it is unsurprising that robotics will be on full display during the games. For example, a robotic security guard made an appearance in Shinjuku station to show how it can roam the area independently and (through several sensors and artificial intelligence) perform many tasks previously done by human workers. The robot can identify unattended baggage, detect suspicious behavior (such as people who are fighting), and avoid obstacles. In preparation for the Olympics, several other robots are getting evaluated for their suitability as custodians and tour guides.
5G Networks — Another major point of excitement surrounding the upcoming games is that they will coincide with the full commercial launch of 5G service. Japan’s mobile carriers will implement solutions within the Olympic venues which will offer download speeds of upwards of 5 Gigabits per second and will enable new services. High-definition video streaming, drone control, and the use of augmented, virtual, and mixed realities are expected to feature prominently during the event before they get more widely integrated into other industries.
While self-driving vehicles, robots, and 5G networks will be the critical technologies showcased at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, these represent only a few of the innovations that visitors will see while in Tokyo. Other services, such as 8K broadcasting and biometrics, will also be on display. Hopefully, these advances will reinvigorate Japan’s tech sector. All of these services combined should make the 2020 Summer Olympic Games the highest-tech sporting event the world has seen to date.