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SusHi Tech Showcase Program: A Glimpse into the Future with Flying Cars and Electric Floats

The SusHi Tech event at Tokyo's Miraikan demonstrates Japan's commitment to using futuristic innovations and tech-driven solutions to shape a brighter future.



Miraikan in Tokyo Bay is opening a section for the SusHi Tech Showcase Program, where everyone can explore what the future will look like. (© JAPAN Forward)

On April 27, the highly anticipated SusHi Tech Showcase Program kicked off, offering an immersive experience across four venues in Tokyo. One of these venues is the Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), a museum dedicated to science and technological innovation. Visitors will encounter cutting-edge technologies and groundbreaking solutions addressing Japan's aging society, poised to transform Tokyo's way of life.

As Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike declared the Miraikan open for SusHi Tech on April 27, she sent a hopeful message. "We can be empowered by the future — I hope everyone will make the most of this opportunity." 

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike at the opening ceremony of the SusHi Tech Showcase Program at Miraikan in Tokyo Bay. (© JAPAN Forward)

Echoing this sentiment, Miraikan Director Chieko Asakawa told reporters, "Technology has the potential of solving problems in our society." 

With meticulous craftsmanship and forward-thinking design, these exhibits offer tantalizing glimpses into a future where technology seamlessly integrates with everyday life. In the Future Tool Zone, attendees can explore advanced tools crafted to enhance future living standards, promising infinite new possibilities for all.

BRAVE ROBOTICS, with developer Hirokazu Onomichi. (© JAPAN Forward)

The Robotics of Tomorrow

Standing 2.5 meters tall and 1.3 meters wide (around 8.2 ft by 4.3 ft), BRAVE ROBOTICS Inc.'s Fire-BARI-ON robot looks straight out of Gundam, the popular robot-based manga franchise. 

Attendees can operate the robot's arms remotely using sensor-equipped gloves. Although still being developed, the company aims to make the robot capable of transforming into a vehicle. Its target users include car enthusiasts and communities seeking vehicles for neighborhood surveillance and patrols. 

"The challenge right now is to make it bigger," software developer Hirokazu Onomichi explains. "But we have made things like cars in the past, and I think we probably already have the technology to make it mobile. It's a constant process of encountering issues and then solving them."

Onomachi reveals that he and his team had to develop the engine for the robot themselves. "There are no engines for robots this size," he shrugs. "It took about three and a half years to construct the engine."

BRAVE ROBOTICS is now developing docking ports for the robot to make it capable of carrying heavy loads. It also conducts driving tests and receives sponsorship from the engineering company THK and robot manufacturer Robotis Bioloid. However, Onomachi's aspirations don't stop there. "I'd like to make it fly by 2030," he muses. "That would be nice." 

Tsubasa Nakamura from Dream On. (© JAPAN Forward)

Flying Cars

Voluntary organization Dream On (DO) offers a simulated experience of a flying car. Representative Tsubasa Nakamura explained, "Essentially, it's an electric passenger plane. It's designed for one pilot and can accommodate four passengers." Nakamura elaborates on the car's mechanism: "Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft like this fly using motors and batteries, similar to how electric cars operate." 

Conventional aircraft rely on engines to rotate propellers for flight. However, eVTOL planes fly by harnessing the power of motors fueled by electricity from batteries. Nakamura states, "As a result, [aircraft manufacturers] have created significantly quieter aircraft. They're about 100 to 1000 times quieter than helicopters, making them suitable for flying over cities without disturbing residents." 

Joby Aviation example exhibited at the Miraikan in Tokyo Bay. (© JAPAN Forward)

The plane can fly at 320 kilometers per hour (around 199 mph) and cover approximately 160 kilometers (99 mi) on a single charge. That is enough to cover the entire Kanto region.

American company Joby Aviation is developing the vehicle, with major shareholders like Toyota Motor Corporation providing manufacturing support. Joby is working to create an air taxi system. 

The company aims to export it to Japan in collaboration with partners like ANA (All Nippon Airways). It also intends to explore business opportunities in Japan and create an ecosystem for environmental conservation. "We are considering whether we can implement such services in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Kansai region," Nakamura says. 

TSUNAGURUMA, an electric-powered festival float exhibited at Miraikan

Accessible Festivals for All Ages

Another key feature of the event is the TSUNAGURUMA, an electric-powered festival float. A collaborative effort between RDS Corporation and Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, the float combines innovation and tradition. 

"We envisioned the festivals of 2050," explains Anri Sugihara, representing RDS. "Considering challenges like an aging population, we aimed to make festivals inclusive for all ages and abilities." This inspired RDS to conceive a mobile float, enabling everyone to participate in festivities. 

"Electrically assisted, this float alleviates the physical demands of festivals on the elderly," Sugihara continues. "In situations where carriers are limited, it offers a fun, interactive experience as individuals take turns driving and pulling it."

With a rich history spanning 160 years, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten contributed diverse designs for the float's upper section. Adorned with LED panels on each side, it showcases high-definition images reflecting the local area's distinctive features, elevating the ambiance.

Tetsuya Konishi from industrial design company exiii design explained the inspiration behind the vivid design. "When crafting this float, our paramount concern was harmoniously fusing technology with traditional Japanese artisanship," he shares. "Balancing modernity and tradition was crucial to avoid discordance in the design. Our goal was to create a symbol of Tokyo and Japan's vibrant future."

Tetsuya Mita, in charge of the project design of "Obake Restaurant" at Miraikan. (© JAPAN Forward)

Children's Entertainment and Education

One key aspect of the Miraikan exhibition is its focus on inspiring and educating younger generations on what their future could look like. 

At the "Obake Restaurant" visitors sit down at a table where food is projected on an empty plate. Shrouded in darkness, a hologram ghost explains the dishes served, and entertains participants with fun facts on available plant-based alternatives.  


Tetsuya Mita, who was in charge of the project design, explains that the idea was born from a play on words. The term 'obake' means a thing that transforms or shapeshifts, and is used to refer to monsters or ghosts. Similarly, food can also undergo amazing transformations, such as soybeans into burgers.

"We wanted to use this opportunity to discuss different diets in a fun way," says Mita. "We are not saying that a plant-based diet is the only way, but we believe it can be a chance for children to be more aware of the options that are available to them." 

Plant-based dishes will be available at the SushiTech event in Uminomori Park, open between May 12 and May 21.

Tony Robot at the Miraikan in Tokyo Bay. (© JAPAN Forward)

A Future with Robots in Everyday Life

Another element showcased was Tony Robot. With adorable eyes, the box-like robot explained the history of robots in Japan.

The initiative aims to create a machine that people will find endearing. "We want to create robots that appeal to people, and they will want to go and meet," says the engineer Kota Yamada. 

The process of creating cute robots is not as simple as it looks. "In order for people to be moved, the robot needs to look at them in the eyes, so we are creating machines with cameras that are capable of doing it," says Yamada. 

He envisions the robot in cafes, interacting and taking people's orders, and becoming an attraction in its own right. Tony Robot fits in a future where robots are part of everyday life, explains Yamada happily. 

With many initiatives like these, the SusHi Tech Showcase Program promises to be a transformative experience, providing a glimpse into the future of technology and innovation. The event also demonstrates Japan's commitment to progress and its vision for a brighter, more inclusive future. 

The exhibition at Miraikan will be open from April 27 to May 26. Stay tuned for more events related to SusHi Tech 2024. 



Authors: Daniel Manning, Arielle Busetto