ANA Aims to Expand Future of Transportation
Disruptive Technology Explained in a Chicago Seminar
• Instead of actually flying by airplane, remain in our
own homes and “experience” visiting far-away locations – such a dream
may become a reality in the future, thanks to the new technologies of
avatars under development by innovators at All Nippon Airways (“ANA”).
• The seminar, “Disruptive Technologies and the Future of Transportation,” was co-organized by ANA and 1871, a Chicago-based nonprofit start-up incubator.
• An avatar is often used in games as an electronic image
that represents a computer user, but it also means an “incarnation in
human form.” For ANA, it is essentially a robot that can be controlled
by a human and enable a person to see, hear, feel and touch in a remote
location through a combination of various technologies.
• ANA has unveiled “ANA Avatar Vision” as part of the
company’s 2018-2022 mid-term business strategy. Based on the company’s
principal concept of “connecting people for the betterment of society
and the world,” the Avatar Vision aims to propose completely new technologies
to connect more people beyond the existing method of transport.
• The Vision describes how the avatar technologies development
project is to be undertaken in partnership with public and private organizations,
including the prefecture of Oita, NTT Docomo, Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency (“JAXA”) and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology.
• According to Fukabori, a wide range of technologies
such as robotics, virtual reality (“VR”), augmented reality (“AR”), censoring,
communication and haptics are needed to be combined to realize a “general
avatar,” an avatar that can be used for multiple purposes.
• The ANA team expects that avatar technologies will offer services that a lot of us don’t have access to, such as medical services in isolated locations, rescue operations at disaster-hit areas, education for those with little access to it, lunar surface constructions, and deep-sea and space explorations.
• The ANA project includes on-site test plans at the
world’s first avatar test field in Oita Prefecture, focusing on tests
in a wide range of areas such as space exploration, fishing and agriculture,
tourism, education and healthcare.
• Fukabori said in order to drive down the cost, there is a need to create a market for avatars in advance. To create a market, the team aims to showcase the advantage of avatars by demonstrating the day-to-day use of avatars in entertainment, shopping, diving, healthcare, education and construction, among others, Fukabori said.
• ANA’s Digital Design Lab was established in April 2016
with the aim to bring about “disruptive innovation.” It consists of 35
members that had been chosen from employees from all the sections of the
company, including engineers, cabin attendants and distribution staff.
• Intrapreneurs within ANA, Fukabori and Kajitani initially
considered teleportation – transport of an object from point A to point
B in an instant – as the theme for the XPRIZE competition.
Kevin Kajitani (C) and Akira Fukabori (R) speak about Avatar technologies.