While the nation is working hard to replace the laborer with humanoid robots, Japan is also well known for its progressive approach to mass transit — and its commitment to the bullet train.
Last week, the East Japan Railway Company (JR-EAST) announced plans for an experimental new train that could begin testing as soon as May 2019. They call it the ALFA-X, and they’re going to push the prototype to see if it is capable of reaching nearly 250 mph (400 km/h). Once in service, it would average 224 mph (360 km/h).
The ALFA-X will test two new nose designs: one that is 16 meters long and another that is 22 meters long. The noses were developed to reduce the pressure generated when the bullet train enters a tunnel at high speeds. With both designs, the trains trade interior space for improved performance and lower noise.
The design also incorporates lighter materials and new vibration-damping components that make the ALFA-X more efficient and, hopefully, provide a smoother ride for passengers. JR-EAST also incorporated new earthquake-detection technology like "anti-earthquake dampers" which help keep the train stable when the earth starts shaking.
The fastest train in America, the Amtrak from Boston to D.C., averages 68 mph — though it does top out at 150 mph along a few stretches — a far cry from the ALFA-X.