The so-called Woven City will be a living laboratory to test future tech.
While most automakers are racing to embrace electrification, sustainability, and other mobility-related future technologies, Toyota is going several steps further – by creating its own city. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Toyota unveiled its prototype city of the future, the Woven City. Set to be built on a 175-acre plot at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, the Woven City will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Think of it as a "living laboratory" that will serve as the full-time home to researchers dedicated to testing and developing future technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes, and artificial intelligence.
"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.
In addition to its own R&D, Toyota is extending an open invitation for other academic and commercial partners to join, including scientists and other researchers. Company employees and their families are also being encouraged to move there. On the design front, the Japanese automaker has already enlisted Danish architect Bjark Ingels whose previous works include New York's 2 World Trade Center and Google's Mountain View and London headquarters.
The city itself will feature streets divided into three lanes, each for different uses: fast vehicles in one, personal mobility and pedestrians in the second, and a "park-like promenade" only for pedestrians. Not surprisingly, only fully autonomous, zero-emissions vehicles can enter the "main thoroughfares."
Toyota's own e-Palette concepts will be used for transportation and deliveries, and for changeable mobile retail. Not even hybrids like the Prius and Corolla Hybrid will be allowed to enter. Toyota also provided some details regarding the city's build materials and housing solutions: 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. The rooftops will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power in addition to power generated by hydrogen fuel cells.
Another part of the city's broad planning is to bring the outdoors inside with native vegetation and hydroponics. Think lots of parks and trees. Toyota says it hopes to break ground for the city in early 2021 and aims to populate it with at least 2,000 people to start.