A government strategic review in Japan announced today described how the country is intending to drive economic growth by investing in new technologies. The review discussed plans to develop a virtual power plant by 2022 and a driverless car system by 2020. The driverless car system is expected to begin testing on public roads this year and the government wants to launch the service for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and commercialize it by 2022.
Japan has typically struggled to keep up with the US, Europe and China's innovation practices related to technology implementations in the workplace such as autonomous vehicles and AI. Since taking office in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has introduced many initiatives aimed at growing the economy, which has seen its first contraction in the first quarter of this year after experiencing eight straight quarters of growth. Some of Abe's previous initiatives aimed at narrowing the pay gap between contract and regular employees and introducing more women into the workforce. The strategy this year has shifted its focus to promoting technologies such as changing regulations in order to allow students acquire the multi-disciplinary degrees required to work in AI.
Virtual power plants, another of the review's plans, work by connecting small energy-storage and energy-generating systems in order for them to work collectively similarly to a conventional power plant. The benefits of such a system, although recognized, can only be realized if regulations enable the systems to distribute energy across the power grid easily.
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