Going driverless

I used to watch Knight Rider on TV when I was a junior high school student. Knight Rider is an American TV series where a hero, Michael Knight, together with a talking self-driven car, KITT, beats the evil and sometimes has romantic experiences with a heroine of each episode. I thought that such a car was just a pipe dream at that time, but the dream will probably come true in a decade or two.

The development of autonomous cars, or driverless cars, is widespread. Google started testing of the developing autonomous cars on public roads as Nevada state law allowed to do it and issued license plates to them in 2011. Following Google, Audi obtained the road testing license as well from the state government of Nevada in 2013. In the same year, the United Kingdom also permitted road testing of automated cars. In China, Baidu is also planning the similar testing.

Automated driving is categorized into five levels. Level 1 (hands on) means that driver and system shares control over the vehicle, such as adaptive cruise control where the driver controls steering and the system controls speed, and parking assistance where steering is automated and speed is manual. Level 2 means hands off, where the system takes full control of the vehicle, including accelerating, braking and steering, but driver must still keep an eye on the vehicle’s movement in case of unprecedented failures. At level 3 (eyes off), driver can text or watch a movie while the system is driving. At level 4 (mind off), driver may go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat while driving. In a level 5 (steering wheel optional) autonomous car, no human interaction is required for driving.

Some car manufacturers are releasing level 2 or 3 cars to the market. Tesla Motors, one of the leading car manufacturers, released level 2 cars with Tesla Autopilot capability in 2015. Those cars can act automatically on limited-access highways, requiring the full attention of the driver. Mercedes will add automated driving features such as an active brake assist, a steering pilot, a parking pilot, a cross-traffic assist system and braking assist on production cars by 2017. No car manufacturers today succeed in making level 4 or 5 cars.

There are some hurdles to achieve the development of level 4 or higher. Possible software bugs may lead to sudden malfunction and put driver and passengers at risk of a traffic accident. Crackers may hack the system and do some destructive actions. Laws and regulations should be properly arranged by politicians knowing well about autonomous driving system to cope with possible problems it may cause.

In spite of these hurdles, the progress is ongoing step by step. The development of artificial intelligence, or AI, also helps the automated driving system evolve. AI is being wiser and wiser over time. AI being installed in the system will dramatically quicken their pace of evolution. I think some car manufacturers will achieve the development of level 4 cars or higher in a few years. We know the rapid growth of the internet and smartphones. We know that the world was changed to what nobody had even imagined 15 years before. That will be true to automated cars.

In the world where cars are fully automated, traditional cars will be removed from the roads, because such cars that cannot follow the new order of the traffic will be nothing but obstructions. Driving such cars manually will be totally banned. Driving (or letting car drive) will be just a means of moving, not fun.

What should such people who love maneuvers of a traditional, manual-driven car do? Such cars will be parked at dedicated paddocks to play them within a restricted area such as circuits or off-road trails, just as today’s motorsport drivers do. Driving a car will be just one of hobbies like hiking, hunting, yacht sailing, golfing or fishing. The day when you can handle your car anywhere by yourself will be over.

Autonomous cars will change the world a great deal. You will think the change might be strange or uncomfortable, but you will have to adapt to it, since nobody haven’t stopped any changes of the times ever before.





Continue reading “英語で参考文献を書く”


英語を書くときに、題名をどう表記するか、意識していますか? ちゃんとルールがあるんです。今回は題名を表記するときのルールについてみていきます。




  • 本(例:A Tale of Two Cities「二都物語」)
  • パンフレット
  • コレクション
  • 定期刊行物(例:The PostNewsweek
  • 新聞(例:The New York TimesThe Yomiuri ShimbunThe Wall Street Journal
  • 長編詩(例:Odyssey「オデュッセイア」)
  • 演劇(例:La Traviata「椿姫」)
  • 映画(例:Bonnie and Clyde「俺たちに明日はない」、Seven Samurai「七人の侍」)
  • ミュージカル作品(例:Mamma MiaHalf A Sixpence
  • 絵画や彫刻の作品(例:The Jewish Bride「ユダヤの花嫁」、The Thinker「考える人」)
  • テレビ番組(例:Miami Vice「マイアミ・バイス」、Bura Tamori「ブラタモリ」)


Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was his favorite novel.

とすると、Dickens’ A Taleとなってしまい、文法的におかしくなってしまいますね。


Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities was his favorite novel.



The headlines of the Post are legendary.
「The Post」のヘッドラインは伝説になるほど有名だ。

の「the Post」の前の「the」はイタリックになりません。



  • (新聞や雑誌の)記事名
  • エッセイの題名
  • 歌の題名
  • 本の各章の題名
  • 短編小説の題名
  • 短い詩の題名
  • ミュージカルの一場の題名
  • テレビ番組のそれぞれの一話の題名


I saw a movie made from the short story “Ballad of the Sad Cafe”.
私は短編小説「Ballad of the Sad Cafe」をもとにした映画を見た。

I love “the Trouble with Tribbles” episode of Star Trek.
私は「スタートレック」の「the Trouble with Tribbles」の回が好きだ。


  • 本、パンフレット、コレクション、定期刊行物、新聞、長編詩、演劇、映画、ミュージカル作品、絵画や彫刻の作品、TV番組の題名は、イタリックにする
  • 新聞・雑誌記事、エッセイ、歌、本の各章、短編小説、短い詩、ミュージカルの一場、TV番組の一話の題名は、引用符でくくる

いかがでしたか? 題名の表記のルールを知って、正しく英文を書くようにしましょう。

参考文献:The Princeton Language Institute. 21st Century Guide To Improving Your Writing. New York: Dell Publishing, 1995.







Continue reading “近江友里恵さんのこと”

Yurie Omi

Yurie Omi

According to Wikipedia, “Yurie Omi (born July 27, 1988) is a Japanese female announcer, television reporter, television personality, and news anchor for NHK. Omi is one of the hosts of NHK morning news show NHK News Ohayō Nippon. She is also the co-host of NHK television series Bura Tamori aired from April 2016.”

I’ve been a big fan of Yurie Omi since the beginning of this year when I sat in front of the TV by chance at my parents’ house and watched her for the first time in Bura Tamori (I had rarely seen it before, though). This program is a travel show where NHK’s broadcaster strolls Japan’s particular town or area with Tamori, one of Japan’s renowned TV personalities, and a geophysicist, a local historian or a curator, to investigate the place’s topics such as terrain features, history, culture and civil engineering.

Why do I think she is so attractive? I think the reason is three-fold. Firstly, she sometimes shows goofy behavior in her TV programs, although she is actually very smart and good-looking. She wore her dress back to front in the news show. In Bura Tamori, she read the thermometer incorrectly. (She said the temperature of hot spring water was 940 degrees Celcius while it really pointed 94.0 degrees.) Such slight weaknesses mean imperfection, which is what Japanese people value in tradition. This mentality makes the Japanese regard her weaknesses as charming. Secondly, she acts or speaks less highhandedly than average so-called “joshi-ana” and TV personalities. They often show off, but she doesn’t. They often speak aggressively, but she never does it. Her attitude like this gives a favorable impression to many Japanese viewers. Thirdly, most of her personality looks so similar to mine that I find something congenial in her. I don’t think she is such a personality that is good at thinking on her feet and speaking off the cuff with a ready wit. Rather, she looks genuine, and she can only do diligently what she has to do with simple honesty. Such characteristics of her is just like mine.

For those reasons, I got fascinated by her. I watch every TV program she appears in. I get up at five in the morning on weekdays to watch NHK’s morning news show she hosts. In Saturday evening I watch Bura Tamori to see her traveling with Tamori.

In addition to watching her on TV, I had a chance to see her with the naked eye. One day I got the information that she was going to hold a lecture presentation at Nagoya on September 30 and was requesting for audience. I applied for it because it might be my once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet her up.

Continue reading “Yurie Omi”





もう1つは、私の英会話力が格段に落ちたということ。さきの周生生の店員さんとの会話でも、それ以外の香港人との会話でも、私の受け答えは"Yeah," "No," "Thank you," "Oh really?"とかばかり。数年前に比べて英語のレスポンススピードが明らかに遅くなっているのがありありとわかりました。職場では全く英語とは無縁の仕事になってしまったので、せめて家の中は環境を英語化しておかないとどんどんさびついていきそうです。

Visiting Hong Kong

A few weeks ago I visited Hong Kong to deposit part of my fixed amount savings, deposited in Japan's post office and matured last month, in HSBC Hong Kong where I've had my bank account for 13 years, and to buy some gold which was a bit inexpensive than what you buy in Japan. Since nobody can predict what will happen to Japan and its economy in the future, I think it is reasonable to diversify assets both nationally and internationally to reduce risks of the loss due to possible economic confusion.


I found out two notable things through this trip. One is that Kagoshima is in fact one of important gateways of Japan for some foreign travelers. From Tokyoite's point of view Kagoshima looks the southernmost far end of Japan, but for some people it is not. I heard that a sales clerk of Chou Sang Sang's Central store who sold a gold necklace to me saying that she had ever been to Japan for leisure, entering Japan at Kagoshima Airport and then moved east to Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, where she departed. She also said that it was a golden route for travelers from China and Hong Kong. Those facts suggest that cities like Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Fukuoka should look at Asian countries rather than Tokyo to survive in the future.

The other thing is my lacking ability of English conversation. When I talked to the sales clerk or any other people in Hong Kong, all I could say to those people were one-to-two-word sentences like "Yeah," "No," "Thank you," "Oh really?" or something like that. Response speed to English was apparently slower than that of a few years ago. It is clearly because I haven't used English so much for years as it is now irrelevant to me in the workplace. All I can do (and need to do) would be to have at least my home Englishized to get accustomed to English environment and help live in an English way.