Toyota's Building a High-Tech City of the Future
It's called the Woven City, and it will be built, at least in prototype form, at the base of Japan's iconic Mt. Fuji.
Instead of a futuristic powertrain or styling that could never enter mass production manufacturing, Toyota’s latest concept looks to change an entire city. By creating one from scratch using modern technologies and encouraging research of even more impressive ones.
It’s called the Woven City, and it will be built, at least in prototype form, at the base of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji. While not exactly a large city, at 175 acres this is still far from being just a model village.
To help build the city, Toyota commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who designed projects like New York’s 2 World Trade Center and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View and London.
“A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities. Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life. With the breadth of technologies and industries that we have been able to access and collaborate with from the Toyota ecosystem of companies, we believe we have a unique opportunity to explore new forms of urbanity with the Woven City that could pave new paths for other cities to explore,” said Ingels.
The city’s sustainability will start with buildings made using wood, minimizing their carbon footprint. Traditional Japanese wood joining techniques will be used, along with robotic production. The buildings will be solar-powered and the plan is to weave native vegetation and hydroponics throughout the city.
In addition to solar power, hyrdogen fuel cells will be used. Only fully-autonomous and zero-emissions vehicles will be permitted on the main roads, with Toyota’s autonomous e-Palettes used to transport and deliver items.
There will be parks designed to bring people together for gatherings, and there will be streets designed strictly for personal mobility and pedestrians. Those streets will mix with vehicular traffic streets in a grid Toyota says is designed to accelerate autonomous vehicle testing.
The homes will get robots with sensors and AI to help them help out with daily living, but also to check the health of the occupants. Toyota said it will be “an opportunity to deploy connected technology with integrity and trust.”
“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 Toyota Motor Corporation.
Toyota plans to start with 2,000 people in the city, including company employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, and visiting scientists. Groundbreaking for the site is set for early 2021, and Toyota expects to add more residents as the project progresses.