Toyota to build prototype future city in Japan

Toyota to build prototype future city in Japan

Woven City will be home to 2,000 residents and researchers who will test and develop smart city technologies.

Toyota has revealed plans to build a prototype ‘city of the future’ on a 175-acre site at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Pitched as a “living laboratory,” Woven City will be home to full-time residents and researchers who will test and develop technologies such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city’s infrastructure,” said Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation, announcing the initiative at the CES tech trade show in Las Vegas. “With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology in both the virtual and the physical realms, maximising its potential.”

Initially, 2,000 people – mainly Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists and industry partners – will live in Woven City and this number will grow as the initiative develops.

Toyota is inviting commercial and academic partners as well as interested scientists and researchers from around the world to come and work on their own projects in the real-world incubator.

City design

For the design of Woven City, Toyota has commissioned architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The team has designed many high-profile projects, including the 2 World Trade Centre in New York, Lego House in Denmark, and Google’s Mountain View and London headquarters.

Buildings will be mostly made of wood to minimise the carbon footprint and will be built using traditional Japanese wood joinery, combined with robotic production methods. The rooftops will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power in addition to power generated by hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota plans to bring the outdoors in throughout the city, with native vegetation and hydroponics.

Residences will be equipped with technologies such as in-home robotics and sensor-based AI to check occupants’ health.

To move residents through the city, only fully autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares. Autonomous Toyota ’e-Palettes’ will be used for transportation and deliveries, as well as for flexible mobile retail.

The site development will begin in early 2021.