Technological innovation that puts people at the center
The topic that popped up next was “autonomous/automated driving,” which is what the “A” in CASE stands for. It is a given fact that autonomous driving will have a big impact on the future of cars. However, the change will not just come naturally out of nowhere. It needs to be promoted while still securing “the safety of the customer,” the most important thing of all.
When Dr. Gill Pratt, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Research Insititute (TRI), appeared on the screen, Kagawa involuntarily greets him, asking if he was well.
While still on the subject, what is unique about Toyota’s development of autonomous driving is that it does not aim to replace people simply with autonomous robot cars like other companies have described, but rather the company sees autonomous technology as a was to extend and enhance people’s driving abilities. Based on the the concept of “Teammate,” Toyota’s primary focus is on how well it can support the driver and secure their safety. This will be a passing point for the autonomous vehicles that are eventually to come.
TRI-AD Chief Technology Officer Ken Koibuchi:
There are various questions and discussions that say automated driving makes driving boring. However, please remember that automated driving is like your safety being monitored from the backseat when people are driving. Driving can be more safe and fun.
It feels like driving together as a team.
Furthermore at TRI, the robotics engineering team is also developing robots that support people, and they showed a video clip of people training the robots. Robot development is one effort to prepare for the aging society to come. It is aimed so that elderly people can be able to do things more independently with the assitance of the robots.
Gill Pratt (CEO, TRI):
What is the mean to truly happy? And How can machines help people do and how can products help people do?
Those are the kind of ideas we are going after.
Well, they will continue to be researched and developed.
Transforming the way that cars are made
As it works towards the once-in-a-century transformational period, Toyota is changing how the products themselves are being made. It is adopting the startup mentality common in Silicon Valley where numerous important innovations have been made. By creating new services and products through software and connected technology, new value that supersedes the hardware itself can be created, says Akio in the video. It is TRI-AD and Toyota Connected, also known as the “Woven Planet Group” that is developing this.
Daisuke Toyoda (Senior Vice President, Woven Planet Group):
The most important aspect of Software-first is called “Software-defined architecture”.
James Kuffner (CEO, TRI-AD):
It's a big change in the way that traditional cars are built. By having the “software-defined architecture” design first, we are really building a car with mobility around a computer system as opposed to trying to stuff computer system components into an existing electric mechanical car.
Customers could upgrade their vehicle constantly.
Possibilities related connectivity are on the rise. An on-board cmoputer may be able to automatically stop the car safely, even if the driver fails to press the brakes at a red light, if the two systems are connected. Such connected technology will be critical in connected cities. Toyota, Akio says, is not simply a car manufacturer making cars, but a company that is preparing the future for our children and grandchildren.
Woven City, a prototype city to be built at the base of Mount Fuji starting from 2021, is one of these types of connected projects.
At CES this year, I announced that on this 175 acre site in Higashi-Fuji, Japan, we will build a prototype town of the future where people live, work, play and participate in a living laboratory.
It is because of LUNAR CRUISER that makes us consider living in the car on the moon. The whole thing has become one.
Oh, it has been a while since I saw the concept video of Woven City. But this has been a stream of surprises, for sure.
All in all, I have never imagined this year would become like this. When I watch this at the end of the year, I can envision that people may be able to live in this kind of closed space in the future.
Since the ideas are well thought out, they percolate in a positive way. What I am saying is that the ideas are not lukewarm. They are just ahead of their time. How can I say? They are going one step further where nobody dares to go.
What excites me about the Woven City is not just the obvious benefits of a living laboratory. What really excites me is the opportunity to make people’s lives more connected, more efficient, more sustainable and to give them more time for the things in life that are meaningful, satisfying and just plain fun.
This goes back to the definition of what happiness is.
I’d like to think we are “producing happiness for all”
Towards the end of the message, Akio raises two points that Toyota is dealing with in its transformation into a mobility company. One is that it will pour its energy on both software and hardware equally. Toyota has primarily focused on monozukuri (manufacturing) of automobiles as its pillar, but from now it will channel its efforts equally into software.
Akio continues, “As friends we need to help each other, but people other than our friends need to help us too.” To be able to do this, contributions will need to be made by not only Toyota and its friends, but contributions also need to be made for the global environment and society by others as a whole. It was this commitment that he was referring to.
As a company, we must do our part to protect our planet and meet the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. We must help lift up our communities, support our families, care for the elderly and disadvantaged, and foster the development of our children.
The philosophy this company was built on, The Toyota Way will never change. But instead of being known as a mass producer of cars, I would really like to think of ourselves as a mass producer of happiness.
“Producing happiness for all.” This truly is the theme for this year.
The core passes through a single pillar so it can’t be shaken
As Kagawa finishes watching Akio’s 30-minute message, he appears to have been impressed with Akio’s message as the global head of the company as he had expressed Toyota’s current situation, including new models and technologies, as well as the company’s future outlook for the next ten years and beyond in his own words to all of the eagerly waiting employees.
Now, It has been nearly two years since January 2019, when Kagawa was appointed as Editor-in-Chief for Toyota Times. Over those two years, he has been able to cover a large swath of Toyota’s business and activities, including topics such as automated driving, robotics, AI, Woven City and Motorsports. Through these activities, he has come to understand that they are not one-off or independent activities, but each are connected to one another, and it is a beautiful tapestry that can come together as one.
Needless to say, the company has various principles such as safety where it wishes to provide good quality vehicles that are also fun to drive. Out of various guiding principles of Toyota, the core pillar of Toyota never wavers.
I am supposed to watch what’s going to happen, and I have been watching the company from a critical perspective from the beginning. However, as time has passed by, I feel like I have also been swallowed into their core pillars. It feels like I have already been encased in concrete, sinking deep into the core of it and being completely unmoved. Starting from next year, I am going to monitor and follow up, keeping my eyes open in the spirit of fairness, and maybe even criticism.
We did a great job in 2020, Toyota Times!
Let’s do our best in 2021, too! Toyota Times!
By the way, I’m sorry that there were many things that really cannot and
should not be disclosed in the World Convention and my reaction videos.