Toyota has revealed plans to build a “prototype city of the future” on a site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
The company made the announcement at a technology conference in Las Vegas on Monday. Called the Woven City, it has been marketed as a green and sustainable city, with plans for it to be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Toyota envisions an initial population of 2,000 people, while the site is planned for early 2021.
Envisioned as a "living laboratory," the Woven City is intended to serve as a home to full-time residents and researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment, Toyota said in a statement.
"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. 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... maximizing its potential," said Akio Toyoda, president of the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Toyota said it would extend an open invitation to collaborate with other commercial and academic partners and invite interested scientists and researchers from around the world to come work on their own projects in this one-of-a-kind, real-world incubator.
For the design of Woven City, Toyota has commissioned Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, CEO of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). His team at BIG have designed many high-profile projects: from 2 World Trade Center in New York and Lego House in Denmark, to Google's Mountain View and London headquarters.
“The masterplan of the city includes the designations for street usage into three types: for faster vehicles only, for a mix of lower speed, personal mobility and pedestrians, and for a park-like promenade for pedestrians only. These three street types weave together to form an organic grid pattern to help accelerate the testing of autonomy,” reads the company statement.
The city is planned to be fully sustainable, with buildings made mostly of wood to minimize the carbon footprint, using traditional Japanese wood joinery, combined with robotic production methods. Toyota said that the rooftops will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power in addition to power generated by hydrogen fuel cells.
To move residents through the city, only fully-autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares. In and throughout Woven City, autonomous Toyota ‘e-Palettes’ will be used for transportation and deliveries ,as well as for changeable mobile retail.
Toyota plans to populate Woven City with Toyota Motor Corporation employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists, and industry partners.