(Drone designed by IHI Corporation)
Japan’s newest frontier for cutting-edge R&D may surprise you. Fukushima Prefecture, an area devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, has since become a rising star in the fields of technology and industry.
Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) sponsors the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme, a program to develop innovative technologies, including robots, energy-related, medical and environmental tech along coastal areas in Fukushima Prefecture. In August, the scheme took on 34 different R&D projects submitted by companies from across Japan, with support from both the national and local government.
Developing drones for disaster relief
Kyoeiseiki Corporation, a manufacturer in Minamisoma City, is collaborating with IHI Corporation to develop a new type of drone (pictured above). This new drone will be able to fly emergency supplies into areas isolated by large-scale disasters. However, several technical challenges remain related to flight time, load capacity, and the drone’s ability to grip multiple packages of different shapes.
Mobility solutions for seniors
The scheme also supports projects outside the scope of disaster resilience, including one company developing a robot to address issues facing Japan’s aging society. WALK-MATE LAB’s wearable robot helps support seniors with mobility issues while they walk, synchronizing its movements with the wearer’s natural walking pace. The company’s next step will be to make the robot more comfortable to wear.
(A walking-assisting robot designed by WALK-MATE LAB)
Innovative technologies for every industry
These new projects range from initiatives to recycle waste materials such as plastic or carbon fiber though new technology, to leveraging IoT technologies to build large-scale vegetable production plants.
Through the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme, METI aims to attract overseas researchers to the cutting-edge R&D taking off in Fukushima.