Just before the 2016 Summer Olympics came to a close, the international community was gifted with a sneak preview of the 2020 Olympics when the worlds most famous plumber popped out of his warp pipe for a cameo appearance at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony. Unfortunately for us, we’ll have to wait a long four years until we can get our next Olympics fix. However, that hasn’t stopped the excitement and anticipation for the 2020 games in Tokyo from taking off.
From the creation of the Compact Disk Player (anyone remember these?) to the development of the Bullet Train, Japan has long been a hotbed for technological innovation. While most host nations preparing for a large scale international event tend to focus on improving basic infrastructure such as hotel and highway development, Japan has proposed a plan that is likely to revolutionize the way we experience the Olympics and provide us with a glimpse into the future of technology.
Already one of the most automated nations on the Earth, Japan’s development of their fully automated robot fleet sets the bar higher than its even been before. And no, I’m not describing a scene out of the movie I, Robot. Japan plans to have their army of robots located in the Odaiba neighborhood which will also serve as the Olympic Village. These android-like machines will help visitors with transportation assistance, carrying luggage, and other everyday activities.
Thinking about getting a Rosetta Stone package to learn some Japanese before you land in Tokyo? Don’t worry, according to Panasonic, they are developing technology that would allow for visitors to wear a necklace around their neck that is capable of instantly translating any Japanese dialogue into the language of their choice. Having trouble reading a traffic sign or a street name? Technology is being developed that will allow visitors to take photographs of any sign in Japanese and instantly translate in into your preferred language.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Japan hopes to have a fully automated taxi fleet to serve athletes and visitors, man-made meteor showers, hydrogen powered villages, a super-speed malgev train, and a host of other things ready in time for the next Olympics.
While these new and emerging technologies are exciting, they also present certain regulatory challenges for widespread implementation and examples of this can be seen in the United States. For example, drone regulation has been problematic for both hobbyists and private companies looking to market drone technologies, specifically as it relates to confusion about the laws on a state vs. federal level. Additionally, public exposure and acceptance of any new technology is necessary if a product is to ultimately flourish, especially for anything that may initially be viewed with skepticism. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics serves as a excellent opportunity to showcase these new technologies and serve as an example for governments around the world looking to implement similar technologies.