Japanese Insurance agency installs AI system replacing human workers

Fukoku Mutual life Insurance is turning to artificial intelligence to increase productivity and save money.

The artificial intelligence system is based on IBM’s Watson explorer. The system can analyze massive amounts of data including images, audio, and video. It will be used to read tens of thousands of medical certificates, calculate length of visit or stay, analyze patients medical history, and calculate payouts.

The installation of the artificial intelligence system would replace 34 employees. Other companies such as Dai-Ichi LIfe Insurance and Japan Post Insurance are either interested in AI or have begun implementing AI systems.


Nissan to rollout autonomous driving system ProPILOT in Japan next month

Nissan has built an autonomous driving system called ProPILOT, which is a self-driving featured designed to be used in a single-lane highway system and will be used on Japanese roads in August of this year.

ProPILOT will be integrated with the Nissan Serena first in August. In a press release, Nissan stated that ProPILOT controls steering, acceleration, and braking, and is designed to be used in heavy traffic and slow speeds, and long commutes, its also only for use in single-lanes.

ProPILOT can automatically manage the distance between cars, travel between speeds from 18 mph to 60 mph, and using a monocular 360-degree camera system, made by Mobileye, the car can watch for lane markers, other vehicles, and keep itself within a lane.

ProPILOT can also stop the car if any vehicles in front stop. Nissan states that the brakes remain engaged even if the driver doesn’t have their foot on the brake pedal. The driver then must accelerate the car themselves or turn on self-driving to being moving. The feature can also detect if the drivers hands are not on the steering wheel and can send warnings.

Nissan is working on more functionality for ProPILOT. The company has plans to release lane switching in 2018 and city driving in 2020.

Nissan is taken a careful approach to self-driving. There are many scenarios that are not accounted for when trying to make a vehicle completely autonomous, such as with the Tesla Autopilot incidents. It appears that Nissan wants to tap into an early market and gradually increase functionality.

Nissan says it has tested ProPILOT in Japan and in the U.S. and the is aiming for a European debut in 2017 as well as in the U.S and China, though there are no definitive timelines for the U.S and China releases.

France is planning to install more than 600 miles of solar roads.

France plans to install solar-panels on its roads in order to provide its citizens clean energy. The French Minister of Ecology and Energy, Ségolène Royal, stated that the French government is planning to install 620 miles (1000 kilometers) of solar panels on their roads and the amount of solar energy would be beneficial to 5 million French people. This development will take five years and it will be able to provide energy up to 8 percent of country’s population. The French road builder Colas and the National Institute of Solar Energy are working together and the project is called the Wattway project.

Colas is a leading solar panel provider and has won the Climate Solutions Award at the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris late last year. According to the company’s website, the panels, which are 7mm thick and composed of photovoltaic cells are arranged like tiles pattern in a polycrystalline silicon layer which will be placed on road surface and skid-resistant and adhere directly to the roadway. The panels are strong enough to support all types of vehicles, including trucks. Each kilometer of Wattway panels are capable of providing enough clean energy to power 5,000 homes. Colas’ technology is innovative, compared to other photovoltaic solutions, in that it does not require to rip out the existing road infrastructure.

It is expected that France will start to test solar-panels on the road surface in spring. There isnt any information on which roadways will be covered with the Wattway panels, or how much the project will cost. Though according to the colas site “the cost with Wattway is estimated at 6 euros/watt-peak.” Though it should be noted that conventional photovaltaic panels have a higher energy yield, at 18%, while the Wattway panels have a 15% energy yield, making them inferior. A proposal has also been put forward from the government to raise taxes on petrol to support France’s transport infrastructure costs, which could help financially support the Wattway project.

There are also other projects like the Wattway.


In 2014, the Netherlands built a 70-meter solar panel bike path near Amsterdam that might be able to generate enough electricity to power three houses. The project cost $3.7 million and surpassed expectations after it generated electricity that saved about $2,000 in electricity costs for that first year.



Japan is also working on a different distribution of solar panels and has been working with the Solar power company Kyocera. The solar power plant is made of about 9,000 waterproof solar panels that float on top of polyethylene on a reservoir and is able to produce around 2,680 megawatt hours per year.

Kyocera Solar Plant.jpg

SOURCE| Illustration: Kyocera Corp.

Solar Roadways is also working on research and development of solar panels for use on roads for the near future. They were awarded a new 2-year $750,000 contract by the Federal Highway Administration for research.

There is a trend in solar energy and new initiatives like the Wattway introduce new applications for capturing solar energy. Who knows maybe in the future all roads will be able to capture solar energy and we will finally have an efficient system that provides clean energy.