A graduate student sits in the driver’s seat, hands on the steering wheel, fully immersed in front of a 3D immersive driving simulator. But this is not an arcade game. He is amassing data crucial to reducing traffic accidents caused by older adult drivers at Keio University’s Graduate School of System Design Management (SDM), where building a safer, more secure society is a top priority.
“Our department has developed this simulator to encourage safe driving skills,” says Prof. Hidekazu Nishimura, the principal investigator of this research. “The screen is directly affected by the user’s eye movements, so you really feel like you’re on the road.” While the auto industry is focused on producing reliable cars that meet customers’ needs, SDM performs applied research to solve problems where many different factors intersect. In this case, Prof. Nishimura examines the factors and systems related to automobiles and ageing—transportation policy, social systems, technology, and an ageing society—and considers what needs to be done to improve them. “SDM’s holistic, transdisciplinary approach can be difficult to grasp,” says Prof. Nishimura.
But this approach is necessary in an increasingly complex world, and SDM is indicative of a wider trend at the university. As part of its vision for 2023, Keio University has begun to integrate its strengths in the humanities and sciences to promote the transdisciplinary research and education initiatives of Longevity, Security, and Creativity. These initiatives tackle many of the critical issues our world currently confronts, some of which Japan faces first among developed nations: an ageing population and declining birthrate, in particular.
In 2014, Keio University was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for the Top Global University Project (Type A), which has been a welcome tailwind to get these initiatives off the ground. Regarding future endeavors, Keio President Prof. Atsushi Seike says, “Our global initiatives of Longevity, Security, and Creativity will contribute to a sustainable, secure, and highly creative world where people live better, longer lives.”
This article was included in Keio’s advertisement in the March 2016 international issue of SKYWARD, JAL Group’s in-flight magazine. It aims to give visitors to Japan a deeper understanding of the research the university is currently undertaking.
The March issue will be available on JAL Group’s international flights until the end of March 2016, so if you happen to be on board a flight, please pick it up and have a read.