Blog Archives

Check out the glass spiral staircase in Apple’s renovated Shibuya store in Japan

Apple will reopen its third major Japanese store to feature modern styling alongside the iPhone XR release this Friday—check out the impressive spiral staircase.

Apple Shibuya Store in Tokyo to Re-Open October 26

Apple has announced the reopening of its Shibuya retail store in Tokyo on Friday, October 26 – the same day as the launch of iPhone XR – following renovation that began almost a year ago.

The Shibuya store opens its doors again on the same date as…

An insider’s perspective on Fukushima and everything that came after

Ars chats with Naomi Hirose, who became TEPCO’s CEO after the Fukushima meltdown.

The robots are building things now

We all know by now that the robot apocalypse is coming. It won’t happen tomorrow, or the next day, or even next year, but at some point in the future we’ll all be slaves to AI-powered bots of our own creation. It’ll be a rough time for humans but it’s not here yet, which means that in the meantime we can exploit robot labor! Hooray!

Japanese engineers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology group are helping us realize that dream with the development of a robot called HRP-5P. This plucky bot can build… stuff, and it does so without take lunch breaks or whining about unions. Truly it is superior to humans in every way.

Standing nearly six feet tall and weighing over 220 pounds, the robot walks and moves a lot like a (somewhat stiff) human. It has a whole suite of sensors that it uses to monitor its surroundings and recognize objects that it can manipulate with its mechanical claws.

According to AIST, the development of the prototype could eventually yield a robot capable of assisting humans in building large structures like buildings or even aircraft. The company showcased the bot’s abilities in a video where the robot applies drywall to a wall frame, placing it in the correct spot and then securing it with a nail gun that fits perfectly in its rigid mitts.

The demonstration looks fairly simple from the outside but the complexity of the robot itself is obvious. The team sees the robot as a potential solution to a lack of workers willing to perform manual labor in the future.

“Along with the declining birthrate and the aging of the population, it is expected that many industries such as the construction industry will fall into serious manual shortages in the future, and it is urgent to solve this problem by robot technology,” AIST explains. “Also, at work sites assembling very large structures such as building sites and assembling of aircraft / ships, workers are carrying out dangerous heavy work work, and it is desired to replace these tasks with robot technology.”

Earthquake rocks Japan, causing mudslides and burying homes

A powerful 6.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Hokkaido in Japan early today. Residents of the island, which is the northernmost large island of Japan, were faced with building collapses as well as massive mudslides that buried many homes situated in a valley.

At the moment, the death toll sits at seven, but there are still a number of people unaccounted. According to local officials, over 150 people were injured in the quake, and the search continues for the individuals who are still missing.

As you’d expect, most travel throughout the region has been placed on hold while officials deal with the situation at hand. Making matters worse for emergency staff is the fact that the quake also knocked out power to much of the region, with close to three million buildings sitting dark as workers do their best to grapple with the damage. Hospitals which are still taking patients have resorted to generators to provide power.

A nuclear power plant on the island also had its power knocked out briefly. With the memory of Fukushima still fresh in everyone’s minds, officials were quick to announce that the facility was running on backup power and that everything was fine. That’s a small bit of good news in an otherwise tragic story.

The quake reportedly came in at a level seven on Japan’s own seismic intensity scale. That’s the highest level possible, and is characterized by people being “thrown by the shaking and impossible to move at will,” with the majority of homes either collapsing entirely or being severely damaged.

One of the biggest issues right now is the mudslide which buried countless homes. An incredible amount of earth has shifted position and tumbled down on residences that were situated below. Digging it up in search of survivors will be a difficult task, and the clock is ticking on rescue crews hoping to find people still alive.