Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) has shared plans to set up “Smart Poles”, its multifunctional power poles inspired by the animated series “Evangelion”, in time for visitors to Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai. The poles, still being tested for improvement, are outfitted to serve as bases for next-gen drones and work to protect lost children at the Expo.
KEPCO held a public experience on March 24 using the poles at the Expo 2025 site at Yumeshima in the Konohana district of Osaka.
Among the features unveiled, KEPCO’s lost child search system was demonstrated. An adult female test subject was selected, and data of her facial and physical characteristics were uploaded into the computer system in advance. Using image data captured by the pole’s security cameras, the computer’s artificial intelligence (AI) was able to identify her as she walked near a pole.
The project was tested from January to June 2022, in support of Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City and Osaka Chamber of Commerce. Data was also collected on resistance to salt and wind damage at the proposed Expo site, which is located along the ocean.
Issues such as drone operations being vulnerable to wind have been identified. KEPCO plans to continue testing the drones and making improvements based on its research at nearby facilities in hopes of using the smart poles at Expo.
The public debut of smart poles developed by the Kansai Electric Power Group (KEPCO). The posts include a security camera and are topped with a drone port for take-off and landing. (March 24, 2022 in the Konohana district of Osaka. Photo by Takanobu Sawano.)
These sophisticated pillars can also serve as relay stations for charging drones. They can provide street lights and act as wireless LAN WiFi stations to cover a large area even in places with no means of communication.
The energy provided by their solar panels can also be used to charge smartphones and provide power in the event of a power outage.
The three smart poles on display at the Expo are about 6 meters tall and lined up about 20 meters apart. With colors in purple and green for “Yumeshima First Pole”, red for “Yumeshima Second Pole”, and yellow for “Yumeshima Zero Pole” in yellow, the selections were decided with the approval of management company Evangelion. They mirror the three types of Evangelion mechas (biomechanical humanoid bodies, also called Evas) from the original TV series.
KEPCO reportedly requested the collaboration due to the anime’s plan of the same name called “Operation Yashima”. In Evangelion, the anime operation uses electric power drawn from all over the country to gather power for the mecha suits, causing a blackout all over Japan.
Keiichi Shimizu, Deputy Principal Researcher at KEPCO’s Research and Development Office, said, “We are also considering adding a function to warn visually and hearing impaired people of danger. We want the pole to be useful at Expo and in people’s daily life after Expo.
(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)
Author: Kohei Inoue