Toyota Developing Fuel Cell Truck

Toyota (Toyota City) — Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors have agreed to jointly develop a heavy-duty fuel cell truck, and to proceed with initiatives toward its practical use through verification tests and other means.

Toyota and Hino are determined to take proactive action toward resolving global environmental issues as one of the most important corporate tasks. The two companies have declared ambitious goals to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 and are developing electric vehicle technologies for widespread use in society. In order to achieve further reductions in CO2 emissions, major improvements will be required in the environmental performance of heavy-duty trucks, which account for about 60% of the total CO2 emissions from commercial vehicles in Japan.

For the electrification of commercial vehicles, the optimum powertrain must be adopted to ensure both outstanding environmental performance and just-right practicality as a business vehicle in terms of cruising range, load capacity, and other aspects depending on the usage. Heavy-duty trucks are typically used for highway transportation; therefore, they are required to have sufficient cruising range and load capacity as well as fast refueling capability. For this reason, fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen with its higher energy density are considered effective.

The heavy-duty fuel cell truck in this joint development project is based on Hino Profia, and is being developed taking maximum advantage of the technologies both Toyota and Hino have cultivated over the years. The chassis is specially designed with the optimum packaging for a fuel cell vehicle, and steps are being taken through comprehensive weight reduction to ensure a sufficient load capacity. The powertrain is equipped with two Toyota fuel cell stacks that have been newly developed for Toyota’s next Mirai and includes vehicle driving control that applies heavy-duty hybrid vehicle technologies, developed by Hino. Also, cruising range will be set at approximately 600 km, aiming to meet high standards in both environmental performance and practicality as a commercial vehicle.

Toyota and Hino have positioned hydrogen as an important energy source for the future and have worked together on developing technologies and spreading and innovating fuel cell vehicles for over fifteen years since their joint demonstration trials of the fuel cell bus in 2003. Going forward, Toyota and Hino will further strengthen its partnership and accelerate efforts toward the realization of a hydrogen society.

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NTT Docomo Lauches Japan 5G Services

NTT Docomo (Tokyo) – NTT Docomo announced today that it will launch its much anticipated fifth-generation mobile communications service (5G) on a commercial basis in Japan on March 25. At the time of launch, the service will achieve a maximum data rate of 3.4 Gbps and in June the downlink will increase to a maximum 4.1 Gbps.

NTT Docomo 5G coverage will encompass some 150 locations nationwide initially and then expand to all prefectures by June. More than five hundred cities are expected to have access to NTT Docomo’s 5G service by March 2021.

Customers who purchase a 5G-compatible smartphone from NTT Docomo will be able to choose between two types of billing plans according to their data needs.

At launch, NTT Docomo’s lineup of 5G-compatible devices will include seven models in the Docomo Smartphone series and a mobile Wi-Fi router. All models will be compatible with NTT Docomo’s existing LTE network.

Going forward, NTT Docomo is committed to steadily expanding and enhancing its 5G network service to create new value for society and to make customers’ lives more convenient and fulfilling.

Launch video

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Yamaha Invests in US Startup Abundant Robotics

Yamaha (Iwata) — Yamaha Motor announced today that it has made an additional investment of US$2.5 million in Abundant Robotics – a startup in the United States that develops robotic apple harvesting solutions.

Yamaha Motor started a relationship with Abundant in 2016 with an initial US$250,000 investment. Through discussion about the shape of collaboration moving forward, the two companies have reached an agreement regarding additional investment that contributes to Yamaha Motor’s long term vision of advancing robotics for agriculture.

Aimed at technology development oriented toward agricultural automation, the investment in Abundant was realized through the work of Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV), a Group company that conducts corporate venture capital activities.

The company aims to contribute to labor-shortage solutions and automation in the agricultural field through accelerating the development of robotics technology and unmanned systems.

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Konami

Foundation: 1969

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Takuya Kozuki

Website

Konami Holdings Corporation is a Japanese entertainment and gambling conglomerate. It operates as a video game developer, manufacturer of pachinko and slot machines, and publishing company. Konami also operates health and physical fitness clubs across Japan. Its annual income is in the range of US$3 billion.

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Square Enix

Foundation: 1975

Headquarters: Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

President: Yosuke Matsuda

Website

Square Enix Holdings is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its role-playing video game franchises. Its annual income is in the range of US$3 billion.

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Suzuki

Foundation: 1909

Headquarters: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

Chairman: Osamu Suzuki

Website

Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation which manufactures automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, outboard marine engines, wheelchairs, and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. Its annual income is in the range of US$25 billion.

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Sharp

Foundation: 1912

Headquarters: Sakai city, Osaka

President: Jeng-Wu Tai

Website

Sharp Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that designs and manufactures electronic products. Since 2016, it has been a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Foxconn Group. Its annual income is in the range of US$20 billion.

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Bandai Namco

Foundation: 2005

Headquarters: Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo

Chairman: Shukuo Ishikawa

Website

Bandai Namco is a Japanese company which was formed from the merger of Bandai and Namco in September 2005. It specializes in toys, video games, arcades, anime, and amusement parks. Its annual income is in the range of US$6 billion.

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Rakuten

Foundation: 1997

Headquarters: Setagaya Ward, Tokyo

Chairman and CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani

Website

Rakuten s a Japanese electronic commerce and online retailing company. Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan. The company also operates Japan’s biggest Internet bank, as well as fintech, digital content, and communications services. Its annual income is in the range of US$10 billion.

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Fujitsu

Foundation: 1935

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Tatsuya Tanaka

Website

Fujitsu is a Japanese multinational information technology equipment and services company. Fujitsu mainly makes computing products, but the company and its subsidiaries also offer a diversity of products and services in areas such as personal computing, enterprise computing, storage products, telecommunications, advanced microelectronics, and air conditioning. Its annual income is in the range of US$40 billion.

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SoftBank Unrolls Its 5G Services

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — SoftBank has become the first major operator to unroll consumer 5G mobile services in Japan, with the network launch planned for March 27.

SoftBank is launching new products and services to take full advantage of 5G speed and capacity.

For example, SoftBank will begin offering 5G compatible smartphones, starting March 27. The initial four models will be the Aquos R5G by Sharp, the ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G, and the Oppo Reno3 5G.

Preinstalled on these smartphones will be 5G Lab apps, a new SoftBank content service. 5G Lab is comprised of four categories: AR Square, which will offer Augmented Reality experiences; VR Square, which will deliver Virtual Reality experiences; FR Square, which will provide Free-viewpoint Reality experiences; and Game Square, a cloud gaming service based on Nvidia’s GeForce Now. The latter is slated to launch in June.

SoftBank launched a series of 30-second promotional videos today, including this one.

To get the program rolling, SoftBank is offering to waive the monthly ¥1,000 5G Basic Fee for those who sign up by August 31, 2020.

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Working Timeline of 5G in Japan

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The following is a working timeline of 5G in Japan which Akihabara News intends to expand and update in the weeks and months ahead.

2010

NTT DoCoMo initiates 5G research and development, undertaking extensive indoor and outdoor field tests.

2013

October: NTT DoCoMo presents its 5G vision at CEATEC Japan 2013, promising that it will be able to offer “1000 times the capacity and 100 times the speed as the current network” by 2020.

2014

May: NTT DoCoMo announces six mobile vendors it will be working with for testing of 5G technologies across a range of frequencies: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia, and Samsung.

2015

March: NTT DoCoMo announces that it will conduct a three-way 5G technical collaboration with China Mobile Communications Corporation and KT Corporation. NTT DoCoMo also reveals that its joint 5G outdoor trials with Ericsson have achieved a maximum data transmission speed of over 4.5Gbps using the high-frequency 15GHz spectrum band, and that they aim to establish a commercial 5G network before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin in July 2020. Huawei and Mitsubishi Electric are added to the list of NTT DoCoMo 5G vendors.

July: NTT DoComo announces that it entered into 5G collaborations with five additional vendors—Intel Corporation, Keysight Technologies, Panasonic Corporation, Qualcomm Technologies, and Rohde & Schwarz.

October: NTT DoCoMo conducts first real-world tests of its 5G network technology, in partnership with Nokia, at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo.

2016

February: NTT DoCoMo, KT, SK Telecom, and Verizon agree to form a new global initiative called the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance, planning to develop an aligned 5G trial specification that would serve as a common, extendable platform for different 5G trial activity around the world. Also, NTT DoCoMo and Denso Corporation agree to undertake joint research and development of vehicle control systems that use 5G in order to realize advanced driver assistance and automated driving systems. Additionally, NTT DoCoMo announces that MediaTek has been added to its list of 5G vendors.

May: NTT DoCoMo announces that it has achieved the world’s first wireless real-time transmission of 8K video deploying radio access technology for 5G mobile communications systems, in a trial jointly conducted with Nokia.

November: NTT DoCoMo and DeNA announce agreement to trial a 5G mobile-communications system that is expected to enhance the safety of self-driving vehicles through remote monitoring and passenger assistance.

December: NTT DoCoMo announces that it concluded a memorandum of understanding with the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology to jointly investigate the standardization of 5G technologies and available frequency bands.

2017

February: KDDI and Samsung announce successful completion of Japan’s first ever 5G multi-cell handover test using the 28GHz spectrum to be conducted in an outdoor environment on Tokyo’s metropolitan expressway. KDDI reveals that it is targeting 2020 as the start of its commercial 5G services.

March: SoftBank is granted an experimental license to conduct tests on the 28GHz frequency band, a candidate for 5G in Japan, aiming launch 5G commercial services around 2020. Indoor and outdoor 5G trials begin in Tokyo Waterfront City.

May: SoftBank, Qualcomm Technologies, and Sprint agree to jointly develop technologies for 5G.

September: KDDI and Samsung announce the completion of 5G tests at Everland Speedway in South Korea at speeds over 190km per hour, the fastest in the world.

October: KDDI and Samsung conduct successful 5G trials on a moving train in Saitama Prefecture. The tests include 8K video being downloaded by the 5G router on-board, and 4K video filmed from a camera atop the train being uploaded.

November: NTT DoCoMo announces that it has conducted the world’s first successful outdoor trial of 5G mobile technologies for ultra-reliable low-latency communications using a 4.5GHz system, developed in collaboration with Huawei. Meanwhile, SoftBank and Honda begin joint research on the use of 5G technologies for the automotive industry.

2018

January: NTT DoCoMo signs an agreement with Nokia to supply 5G baseband products, aiming for the rollout of commercial 5G services by 2020. Meanwhile, Rakuten and Tech Mahindra announce the opening of the Rakuten Cloud Innovation Laboratory, focusing on 5G technologies.

April: KDDI partners with independent venture capital firm Global Brain Corporation to establish the KDDI Open Innovation Fund 3, a fund to invest in venture firms related to 5G technologies.

May: KDDI begins business trials with partner companies on developing new business operations using virtual characters and other Extended Reality (xR) technologies.

June: KDDI announces a successful live 4K video 5G transmission test using a drone. Rakuten begins joint 5G trials in partnership with Nokia.

December: The Japanese government announces that Huawei Technologies and ZTE will be excluded from public procurement regarding 5G technologies due to alleged security risks.

2019

February: KDDI and partners conduct Japan’s first 5G multi-vehicle autonomous driving experiment on public roads.

April: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications allocates spectrum to operators DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank, and Rakuten in advance of a planned commercial 5G launch in 2020. The operators commit to building out 5G networks in every prefecture by 2022.

May: US government restricts technology sales to Huawei Technologies, due to alleged security risks. SoftBank responds by selecting Nokia and Ericsson as its 5G vendors, excluding its longtime supplier Huawei Technologies.

June: Rakuten and NEC Corporation partner to build a 5G wireless communications network across Japan.

July: KDDI and SoftBank announce an agreement on the mutual use of their base station assets to promote the rapid buildout of 5G networks in Japanese rural areas. Meanwhile, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani says his firm will roll out its 5G services in Japan in June 2020.

September: KDDI partners with Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia for the mobile operator’s 5G network rollout in Japan, planned for early 2020. Meanwhile, NTT DoCoMo announces that it has joined the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation with the aim of further advancing the use of 5G technology in the manufacturing sector. NTT DoCoMo also achieves the world’s first 5G mobile communications between base stations and a high-speed bullet train in collaboration with Central Japan Railway Company.

November: KDDI announces that it will partner with Facebook on developing 5G technologies, with a focus on creating high-definition Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) images. Meanwhile, SoftBank and Subaru Corporation start joint research on using 5G mobile communication systems for the realization of an automated driving society.

December: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications begins accepting applications for licenses to operate local 5G services.

2020

January: NTT DoCoMo announces it will launch a video-streaming service based on 5G high-speed wireless technology beginning in March. NTT DoCoMo also releases a white paper on 6G, which its aims to launch on a commercial basis by 2030.

February: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issues to Fujitsu the country’s first preliminary license to build a local 5G communications network. Japan’s legislature begins considering a bill that would provide state-backed low-interest rate loans and tax incentives for Japanese companies to develop secure 5G mobile networks. Sharp Corporation unveils its first 5G smartphone model.

March: SoftBank becomes the first mobile phone company to offer 5G services to its customers.

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Yahoo! Japan

Foundation: 1996

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

President and CEO: Manabu Miyasaka

Website

Yahoo! Japan Corporation is a Japanese internet company originally formed as a joint venture between the American internet company Yahoo! and the Japanese company SoftBank. Yahoo! Japan’s web portal is the most visited website in Japan, and its internet services are mostly dominant in the country. Its annual income is in the range of US$8 billion.

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Toshiba

Foundation: 1875

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

Chairman and CEO: Armand Dupreez

Website

Toshiba Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate focusing on products and services including information technology and communications equipment and systems, electronic components and materials, power systems, industrial and social infrastructure systems, consumer electronics, home appliances, medical equipment, office equipment, as well as lighting and logistics. Its annual income is in the range of US$35 billion.

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Line

Foundation: 2000

Headquarters: Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

CEO: Takeshi Idezawa

Website

Known under a series of different names until 2013, the Line Corporation is a Tokyo-based subsidiary of the South Korean internet-search Naver Corporation. The company’s main business is the development of mobile applications and Internet services, particularly noted for its flagship Line chat mobile app. Its annual income is in the range of US$2 billion.

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KDDI

Foundation: 2000

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

CEO: Takashi Tanaka

Website

KDDI is a Japanese telecommunications firm formed in October 2000 through the merger of DDI Corporation, KDD Corporation, and IDO Corporation. It is most noted for providing mobile cellular services using the au by KDDI brand. Its annual income is in the range of US$45 billion.

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Line Launches Bitfront Digital Currency Exchange

Line (Tokyo) — As part of the continuing expansion of the Line token economy, Line Corporation has launched Bitfront, a global digital currency exchange based in the United States. Operated by LVC USA, a subsidiary of LVC Corporation, Bitfront provides a fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto market for the US dollar.

Bitfront will become the main digital currency exchange platform for Line’s token economy. Previously, Line operated the global digital asset exchange Bitbox, a crypto-to-crypto exchange based in Singapore. Now, however, Line has decided to expand its services and become a full-fledged exchange that includes fiat-to-crypto markets, aiming to spur the usage of blockchain by lowering the barriers to cryptocurrency adoption.

With the aim of using innovation to overcome traditional financial barriers, Bitfront brings extensive security and industry know-how built on Line’s years of experience as a major global service. By linking other exchanges and order books, Bitfront provides deep liquidity and ensures a tight bid-ask spread. In addition, users will be able to trade in US dollars by linking their bank account.

Bitfront supports five major cryptocurrencies, including Line’s digital currency Link, Bitcoin, Etherium, Bitcoin Cash, and Tether, in fifteen languages. Furthermore, Bitfront provides a range of customized features to ensure a convenient trading experience.

“This is a major leap toward achieving the mass adoption of blockchain,” said Youngsu Ko, CEO of LVC Corporation. “As the most trusted global digital currency exchange, we will continue to make blockchain and cryptocurrency more accessible to our users.”

To celebrate the launch, Bitfront is offering a promotion for users in the United States. Until March 31, US-based customers who have completed the know your customer process will be able to receive Link rewards if they exchange or purchase more than US$100 worth of digital assets, plus they will be exempt from commission fees if the deposit is made through a wire transfer.

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KDDI to Promote Telecom Infra Project

KDDI (Tokyo) — To accelerate telecom innovations and next generation’s Network Infrastructures technologies development, KDDI Corporation is joining Telecom Infra Project (TIP).

TIP was founded in 2016 by Facebook, Nokia, Intel, Deutsche Telekom, EE, and a number of other operators with the aim of developing open technologies and designs that would reduce telecommunication network development costs, thereby advancing telecommunication infrastructure. More specifically, TIP focuses on all elements of the network including access, transport, core & services, and through its project groups, TIP’s members design, build, test and deployment of standards-based, open and disaggregated network solutions.

Hundreds of companies and organizations have joined TIP so far, including , telecommunication companies and service providers, technology providers, developers, integrators, startups, and a range of other entities inside and outside the traditional telecommunications space.

This time, to further accelerate telecom innovations and develop networks that engage new technologies, the two parties will launch initiatives on the following two matters.

First, in spring 2020, KDDI will open TIP Community Lab in Tokyo, a development and verification center to accelerate telecom innovations for TIP.

The TIP Community Lab will be a development and verification center for TIP members to openly discuss the configurations and specifications of the hardware and software used for (access, transport and core) features that constitute communication networks, and develop technologies efficiently and at low cost. Currently there are twelve TIP Community Labs in seven countries around world. KDDI’s TIP Community Lab will be the first site in Japan.

In time for the launch of the TIP Community Lab, and together with KDDI Research, Inc., KDDI will also start evaluating transport facilities that will be based on disaggregated solutions.

TIP Board Member, Aaron Bernstein, commented: “We are delighted that KDDI has joined TIP and will work together with the organization to establish the first TIP Community Lab in Japan and the thirteenth lab in the world. The Community Labs are a core component of TIP’s development model, where members come together to build and test new technologies and share what is learned from their respective organizations; reimagining the way networks are developed and deployed.”

Second, KDDI will be co-leading a new sub-group within TIP’s Open Optical Packet Transport project group in spring 2020. The new initiative will be called Disaggregated Open Routers (DOR) and will focus on open and disaggregation routing platforms for transport networks, and will drive technological development toward white-box equipment for backbone networks.

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Pony.ai Receives US$400 Million from Toyota

Pony.ai (Fremont) — Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company, announces today that it has raised US$400 million from Toyota Motor Corporation to deepen and expand the two companies’ collaboration in mobility services. The investment comes as an extension of a business partnership that was formed between Pony.ai and Toyota in 2019. Building upon the foundation established last year, both companies will further advance their joint efforts in autonomous driving technology development and mobility service deployment. The new funding totals $462 million and puts Pony.ai’s valuation at just over US$3 billion.

Strengthened ties will enable deeper integration of Pony.ai’s autonomous driving system with Toyota’s robust vehicle platforms and technologies. This type of collaboration is a strategic approach for both companies. In August 2019, Pony.ai and Toyota initiated joint autonomous driving pilots in China. This year’s strategic investment will expand the partnership’s scope of collaboration. In addition to co-developing autonomous driving technology, Pony.ai and Toyota will look beyond the vehicle itself to explore further possibilities on mobility services.

Since its establishment in December 2016, Pony.ai has been committed to revolutionizing the future of transportation by building the safest and most reliable solution for autonomous mobility. Pony.ai has been testing its Robotaxi pilot service, PonyPilot since late 2018 in Guangzhou, China. With PonyPilot, Pony.ai became the first company to launch a Robotaxi operation and offer self-driving car rides to the general public in China. In November 2019, Pony.ai also became the first company to roll out a public-facing Robotaxi pilot service in California, demonstrating its ambition and commitment to mobility services at a global scale.

Going forward, Pony.ai and Toyota will continue to work together to deliver on their shared vision of a safe and sustainable mobility future. The partnership will focus on providing meaningful societal benefit by leveraging the technologies, know-how, and services of each company.

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