The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Sumitomo Riko jointly completed the construction of a special road at the AIST test course (Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture). A ceremony to commemorate the completion was held on Monday, October 18, which I attended. Actually, I immediately went for a test run and would like to report on this to you all.
AS you know, AIST and our company have established the “Sumitomo Riko-AIST Advanced Polymer Device Joint Laboratory” in the Tsukuba Center of AIST last October. The purpose of this project is to overcome the rough seas of the CASE* era and accelerate the development of new technologies and products by utilizing the human resources and R&D facilities of AIST in addition to the advanced technologies and knowledge that both parties have cultivated.
AIST President Kazuhiko Ishimura (left) and I. We pledged to further accelerate our research and development on the newly constructed special road.
Specifically, we aim to develop various sensing devices that are expected to contribute to the area of "A: Autonomous driving" and to use these devices to develop and propose new products that improve ride comfort and driving stability in our existing core businesses, such as anti-vibration rubber, sound insulation products and interior components.
C: Connected, A: Autonomous, S: Shared & Services, E: Electrification
In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention paid to efficient virtual development, which is a "prototype and evaluation-less" process with fewer development steps. However, as the car itself underwent a major transformation, there was a growing need to once again acquire real data as an indicator. Therefore, we decided to set up six new special roads in the AIST test course (details are given in the press release at the end).
Now to the test course!
After ceremonies such as the ribbon-cutting, it was time for the "test drive" (I didn't drive, I sat in the passenger seat, so technically it was a "test ride"). I used to work in the brake related business, so I had test drives at the test course every year, but this was my first time to be driven on a banked, high-speed curved road, so it was very exciting. (I was also excited as I remembered how I used to drive on rough desert roads in the United Arab Emirates.)
The new special roads, such as Bergen Road (cobblestone) and Wavy Road (wavy road surface), were really well done and I felt that they faithfully reproduced the actual road surface conditions. There was even a "Komaki Road" that mimicked the city streets around the Komaki Head Office and Manufacturing Plant (Komaki City, Aichi Prefecture). This is for comparison and verification with the data we have obtained in the past around our company. Based on the accumulation of our past development, we must surely produce results in the form of product development and social implementation through this new industry-academia collaboration. I felt a sense of responsibility that made me sober up.
We took a test run on the test course, doing two laps, three laps, and then switching to another car ....... No matter how many laps weI did, we could feel the difference in vibration, noise, and ride quality depending on how I drove, the type of car, and the road conditions, and it was a great surprise and discovery!
From Tsukuba to the World
The joint research at this laboratory is a five-year project that will run until September 2025. This October marks the second year of the project, and with the opening of the new test course, we can expect further progress and leaps forward.
I sincerely look forward to the birth of new technologies, products, and solutions that will support the business of our group and that we can be proud to show off to the world from Tsukuba, a place of accumulated knowledge, in less than five years.
Related Press Release