Looking almost like a ripple in time and space, Vincent Leroy’s Illusion Lens bends light in a way that makes you double-take. The illusory installation, which has found its way on the terrace of a building in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills, is a geodesic structure, comprising multiple fresnel lenses (flat lenses with multiple spherical rings).
Sitting at the very center of a helipad on Mori Tower, in one of Tokyo’s most affluent districts, the Illusion Lens bends looks like a literal jewel, as it bends light in ways that make everything around it appear as fragments inside it, combining the cityscape as well as the sky above. ‘Far from the noise and activity of the Japanese megapole it is an incredible place for contemplation. it’s the best place to be close the clouds of Tokyo’, says Vincent. It rotates ever so gently throughout the day, refracting, reflecting, and remixing, like a massive kaleidoscope.
The fresnel lenses (originally designed to help lighthouse beams propagate further) are joined together without any seams to form a seamless buckyball that makes the installation look like a cut, clear jewel. In the day, it becomes a place of contemplation and reflection, as clouds, skies, and buildings merge together in a symphony of polygons, and at night, the artpiece comes alive with a thousand reflections of the city’s lights.
Designer: Vincent Leroy
Created by the Gold Partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Asics has released a special edition of their Gel-Quantum running shoes with a vibrant color gradient and the Tokyo 2020 branding on the sides as well as the shoe tongue and rear. The shoes come with gel-cushioning in the rearfoot and forefoot and were created as a special commemorative series for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. I imagine the rainbow gradient would look absolutely fantastic when in motion, and I don’t see why this shouldn’t become a collectible item sometime in the future!
I’m here in Tokyo this week for the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and while here, I stopped by the new headquarters for the Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) to check out some of the technologies the company and their partners are working on.
Among the many futuristic machines on display during my visit is a specialized robot which will be in use during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics right here in Tokyo.
The Toyota Field Support Robot (aka FSR) is designed to assist the on-field staff during sporting events by retrieving and carrying cumbersome objects like shotputs, javelins, and and discuses thrown during field events.
These specialized robots can automatically follow a member of the field crew out to the location of a tossed object, where it awaits its payload. The human then loads the item into the robot, and then it autonomously drives the item back to the staging area, avoiding people and obstacles automatically along the way. The idea here is to reduce the time it takes to retrieve these heavy and awkward objects, as well as to demonstrate autonomous vehicle technologies.
In the demonstration I saw, they had the robot limited to a slow speed for safety reasons, but in the field, they can drive up to 20 km/h, and operate for up to 2 hours on a charge.
The robots come in two different designs – one that looks like a miniature version of Toyota’s autonomous e-Palette EV, and the other that looks like a classic Japanese taxi cab – which I think looks awesome.
While I think it would be even cooler if the robot could pick up items by itself, TRI-AD say the idea here is to foster partnership between humans and robots, rather than to replace humans. This is a key pillar of Toyota’s philosophy for the integration of automation and artificial intelligence into its business and the world as a whole.
Keep an eye on the field events during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games to see the Field Support Robot in action.
We’re less than a year away from the start of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, so the Japanese city is well underway with preparations for the celebration of athletic talent, sportsmanship, and global goodwill. Among the many things that will be needed for the games to be successful will be methods for athletes to get quickly and safely between their housing and venues during the games – and automaker Toyota is working on just that.
These specially-designed vehicles are based on the e-Palette, an autonomous, battery electric mini-bus first shown in 2018. This updated version has been specially adapted to provide mobility for the athletes in Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic villages.
The Tokyo 2020 e-Palette has big doors that slide to the sides to allow for quick entry and exit by multiple passengers, as well as electric ramps to make it easier for those in wheelchairs or with other physical challenges to board and disembark. It has low floors, and a long wheelbase with virtually no overhangs, allowing for the greatest capacity inside.
One e-Palette has enough room to transport four athletes in wheelchairs at the same time, along with a standing passengers as well. It’s not clear what the total capacity is between seated and standing passengers though.
The e-Palette is rated SAE Level 4 autonomous, and will automatically drive passengers to their destinations with the help of various cameras, sensors, and sophisticated 3D mapping technology. Toyota says a human operator will be on-board each vehicle for safety purposes, but they will only take the controls in an emergency or if other conditions prevent safe autonomous operation.
Toyota plans on showing off the Olympic-bound e-Palette during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, which runs from October 24 to November 4.