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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024

OC’s Role in Creating Tomorrow’s Society

A truly smart and sustainable society employs data and technology to continuously improve the quality of our communities.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we strive to make tomorrow’s world greater than today’s in every part of our business. In some cases, it may be the incremental refining of established technologies that advance the cause. In others, it can be rapid-pace breakthroughs propelled by open innovation and collaboration from inside and outside the company.

But in all cases, it is a constant push forward toward long-term solutions. To sharpen our focus, we have identified five societal challenge areas that drive our research and development to create a smart and sustainable future: Carbon Neutrality, Circular Economy, Safety/Security, Inclusion and Well-Being.

Carbon Neutral Society

The recent landmark Inflation Reduction Act invests $369 billion to address climate change—arguably, it is the most far-reaching clean energy legislation ever passed by Congress.

Mitsubishi Electric companies produce many of the technologies that will assist in the transition to a clean energy economy. These products include variable capacity heat pumps that efficiently cool the air and provide warmth in frigid conditions while utilizing clean energy from the grid. One area of specific interest for the company is heat pump technology, as there are several provisions in the bill that make it easier for all Americans to adopt it.

Our Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS) division manufactures all-electric, cold-climate heat pump water heaters that reduce the environmental impact of high-volume domestic hot water through energy-efficient operation using a natural and environmentally friendly CO2 refrigerant. The result is a global warming potential (GWP) of 1 and an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of 0, whereas other refrigerants can have a GWP as high as 750.

Future, wider adoption of heat pump technology will result in lower energy bills, reduced dependency on foreign oil, further decarbonization of the environment, and new jobs in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry.

Innovation continues to be the key to realizing a smart sustainable society.

As drone technology rapidly advances, more and more uses of drones now appear regularly in day-to-day life. In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Ian, Florida Power & Light Company used drones to survey the damage to its service areas to help strategize and accelerate its rapid response efforts.

This example offers a glimpse into the possible applications of drone technology for emergency response, healthcare and medical supply transportation, relief efforts in third-world countries and areas affected by natural disasters, vital equipment repair for utility and oil and gas companies, and much more.

In fact, the State of Texas has already approved the commercial use of drones for health and wellness deliveries, and multiple delivery service providers have entered the market. These types of “last-mile” drone deliveries help reduce traffic congestion in cities where road infrastructures are nearing capacity.

With this growth in the use of drone technology, Mitsubishi Electric is at the forefront of the emergence of electric vehicle take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles with heavy cargo lift and transportation capabilities that are changing the way we envision transportation and delivery services. These autonomous vehicles are the size of small aircraft and can fly distances of up to 300 miles beyond a visual line of sight. When integrated with communication and service infrastructures, including vertiports, air traffic management systems and fueling stations, eVTOLs will help achieve a more resilient and sustainable society by making goods and assets more widely and easily accessible for just-in-time consumption.

While eVTOLs have been lauded for their successful airspace deployment, seeing the technology go mainstream will depend on several essential services and new technologies, and coordination with federal regulations for mid-mile drone-based logistics. Full implementation can only be achieved with close cooperation and collaboration from a wide range of industry stakeholders that include government agencies, technology companies, service providers, drone manufacturers and operators.

In July 2022, Mitsubishi Electric US (MEUS) and the SoCal Alliance for Innovation took the lead to create a strongly connected drone air-mobility ecosystem in Orange County, and drive innovation in this area by organizing the First Air Mobility Symposium held at the UCI Beall Applied Innovation Center. More than 40 nationwide thought leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials participated in the symposium, including Orange County-based University of California, Irvine, Kaiser Permanente and Mark IV Capital.

Discussing industry challenges and market opportunities, the group agreed to set objectives and meet regularly as an Air Mobility Consortium to promote the growth of eVTOL technology locally.

Inclusive society

For more than 30 years, the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) has worked to empower youth with disabilities to lead productive lives to create a more welcoming and inclusive society.

In 2018, MEAF began supporting a Colorado-based social enterprise called Blue Star Recyclers, whose mission is to employ people with disabilities in the electronics recycling industry. Blue Star worked with its industry association, e-Stewards, to share its ADVANCE+ inclusive workforce development program with other recyclers nationwide.
Blue Star is a notable example of how we are achieving our Inclusion and Circular Economy goals through philanthropy.

Mitsubishi Electric, which is more than 100 years old, has had its U.S. headquarters in Orange County for more than 50 years. We have our vision firmly set on the future. We are committed to using the wealth of data we have and working with our customers and partners to innovate across a variety of businesses to solve social challenges toward the realization of a smart sustainable society.

Editor’s Note: Mike Corbo is president and CEO of Cypress-based Mitsubishi Electric U.S. Inc., which generated $1.9 billion in revenue in 2021. The manufacturer of a variety of electronic products and systems employs 298 in Orange County. The Business Journal’s annual Automotive Review Special Report, which this year focuses on electric vehicles, begins on page 17.

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