• Japan In Focus

Firms Developing New Tech to Help People Get around Nagoya

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Umidoko Robot is seen floating down the Horikawa river in Nagoya.

NAGOYA — A self-sailing raft floated down the Horikawa river in Nagoya for a test run, with the aim of utilizing it for the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo.

A test event for the “Umidoko Robot” was held on Jan. 20 after the city called for businesses to come up with ideas to help tackle social issues.

The Umidoko Robot was developed as a joint venture, which includes construction company Takenaka Corp. The raft uses GPS to navigate the river and travels along a set route at about 4 kph.

The test event was for the raft’s development team to see if the raft can self-sail under fluctuating conditions, such as changing water levels. The vehicle is expected to be used for sightseeing and cleaning the water’s surface. It might also be set up in the Nakagawa Canal in Nagoya in the near future.

A Nagoya University venture called Xxade Inc. also responded to the business idea challenge and tested a self-moving wheelchair, which utilizes sensors to detect when people or objects are near, at the Endoji Historical District near the venue of the Umidoko Robot test. The firm collected feedback from users.

Daisuke Tao, 46, who chairs an association to promote the district, tested both the raft and the wheelchair on Jan. 19.

“The city will be able to attract more people if they can get around the shopping district using the most cutting-edge technology and travel by the Umidoko Robot on the river toward Nagoya Castle,” Tao said.