Autonomous trucks, drones to play starring role in Japan’s Society 5.0

City congestion, advancements in technology lead government to push new means of delivering goods

As much of the world is progressing towards Industry 4.0, Japan is going a step further. In its recently released Growth Strategy 2017 report, the county puts technological achievements, such as autonomous trucks and drone deliveries, on the fast track as it seeks to develop Society 5.0.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a preview of the plan back in March, noted the changing dynamics of modern societies.

“We are now witnessing the opening of the 5th chapter,” he said. “We are now able to find solutions to problems that could not be solved before. This is the age, in which all things are connected, all technologies fuse, and this is the advent of Society 5.0.”

What is Society 5.0? According to Abe, it’s basically the understanding that everything in the future will be connected and that society will need to be adaptable. Japan’s Growth Strategy is designed to reflect that. The plan calls for deep integration of technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics, Big Data, self-driving trucks and drones. And it’s all designed to take advantage of available technologies in a way that solves a growing problem for Japan: an aging population.

“The essence of Society 5.0 is that it will become possible to elicit quickly the most suitable solution that meets the needs of each individual. We will become able to solve challenges that have defied resolution until now,” Abe said at the International Conference on The Future of Asia earlier this month.

Japan’s most recent Population Census, conducted in 2016, found that 27.3% of the population is over the age of 65 and that population is expected to exceed 40% by 2050. Those same population trends are taking place across the globe, where the number of people age 60 and over is expected to double by 2050 according to the 2017 revision of World Population Prospects released by the United Nations.

“We are now witnessing the opening of the 5th chapter. We are now able to find solutions to problems that could not be solved before. This is the age, in which all things are connected, all technologies fuse, and this is the advent of Society 5.0.”
— Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan

The same trends are happening in the U.S., where birth rates have been on the decline. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics found that the nation’s fertility rate for women age 15–44 is at an all-time low of 62 births per 1,000 women.

Click to read more of what Japan’s plan to combat this is.

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