52nd MUMEI-JUKU (30/10/2020)

Theme: The future created by the Autoware operating system
Speaker: Shinpei Kato
(Founder CTO of Tier4 Co., Ltd., Associate Professor of the University of Tokyo, President of The Autoware Foundation)

<From the opening remarks by Representative Takeda>

It is said to be the age of with CORONA. Gray rhinos run around, black swans (which should be white) fly around, confusion and bewilderment. There are dangerous traps everywhere. However, this is not an accurate view. We should say that the COVID-19 has dragged the world into the new digital age.

DATA Analytics, virtual, cyberspace, the Internet, AI, quantum technology, and other digital sciences and technologies have been the subject of much discussion in the digital new age. Many of them are no different from the parable of the blind men and an elephant, which says the blind men talk and give their impression about the elephant’s whole body even though they touch a part of its body such are the elephant’s ears, tail, tusk shell or toenails. This is the current situation. As we enter the digital age, things are taking a completely different turn from what we had expected. Therefore, phenomena are occurring one after another that cannot be understood with the mindset of the old or analog era. It is as if we are startled by the shadow of a dead pampas grass or the flap of a bird’s wings, and we are in a state of excitement.

In this new era, there are no models to follow. We must gropingly create a framework for the digital age. One thing is for sure is that if people, companies or nations do not participate in this frame-building will be rapidly left behind. There are no such things as a free lunch. And there is also the rule of the first-mover gets advantage, winner gets everything.

In Japan, the Suga administration has been working on reforms and promoting digital since its inception in September, but this is not enough. The U.S., a digitally advanced country, has invested huge government funds in various forms of human development since World War II in the 1970s and 1980s. China has been promoting digital technology for 40 years since Deng Xiaoping. Not only that, but even now, right in the midst of the CORONA turmoil, it’s giving maximum importance to this digital promotion.

Japan is one or more lap behind with the rest of the world, so it is necessary for the Suga administration to have a digital strategy that surpasses them and continue to do so for 10 to 20 years. I believe that Japan must continue to increase its value in this context.

Today, one of the core digital technologies, automated driving, will be discussed by Prof. Kazuya Takeda of Nagoya University and Prof. Shinpei Kato of the University of Tokyo, the founders of Tier Four.

The Word “Tier” means group or hierarchy. The automobile industry is divided into suppliers who supply parts, manufacturers who assemble, and dealers who sell. In particular, I have heard that suppliers use the term “Tier I” to refer to companies that supply major components and “Tier II” to refer to companies that deliver to them.

Prof. Takeda and Prof. Kato will talk about why they named their company Tier4, what technology they have developed, and their business model. In addition, we have asked them to talk about two more topics. One is about the difficulties he faced in starting a university-originated venture and the global strategy of Autoware. It is said that university-originated ventures are important, and there are already some listed companies, but the number of such companies in Japan is two orders of magnitude smaller than in the US and Europe, especially in the US. In this context, various software infrastructures are being considered, but I would like to know if there is anything they  would like to add to this. Secondly, I would like them to talk about how they are promoting the Autoware standard. As I mentioned earlier, the law of prior advantage also applies to standardization. The Chinese Communist Party has set up a standardization strategy called the “China 2035 Plan. I would like to see this done in Japan as well.

Previous article

51st MUMEI-JUKU (08/09/2020)