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Toyota Woven City

Believe_21_Web_Tile_Pixles_930x500_Woven City

Toyota recently announced that it’s building its own city – Toyota Woven City – full of innovation and new technology embracing Mobility as a Service and artificial intelligence (AI) in a real-world environment.

Woven City – a prototype town of the future – will be built on a 70-hectare site in Higashi-Fuji, Japan, nestled at the base of Mount Fuji. People will live, work and play there, and participate in a living laboratory.

The fully controlled site will provide researchers, engineers and scientists with opportunities to freely test technology such as autonomy, Mobility as a Service, robotics, smart home connected technology, AI and more, in a real-world environment.

In addressing the CES 2020 Toyota Press Conference, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said this was a unique opportunity to create an entire community or ‘city’ from the ground up, allowing Toyota to build an infrastructure of the future that is connected digitally and sustainably and powered by Toyota’s hydrogen-fuel-cell technology.

He said it would be a chance to collaborate with other business partners and to invite all interested scientists and researchers around the world to work on their own projects for a few months at a time or however long they please.

Toyota has already collaborated with Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels to help bring this vision to life.

Bjarke Ingels Group, also known as BIG, has created some of the world’s most exciting and groundbreaking new architecture – from skyscrapers in Vancouver and New York to the Two World Trade Center, Google’s new headquarters, museums for companies such as Lego, and communities of the future on water, even Mars.

Streets will be split into three separate forms of mobility: fast transportation with every vehicle autonomous and with zero emissions; an urban promenade shared by pedestrians and slower personal mobility vehicles; and a linear park with paths for pedestrians only. The streets will weave together into a grid of 3x3 city blocks – each framing a local park or courtyard.

The blocks will create a serene living environment while also providing a wide variety of intersections between various users – humans, animals, vehicles and robots – to help accelerate Toyota’s testing of autonomy and smart-city infrastructure.

Bjarke Ingels envisions the blocks to look like this:

  • The roofs will be clad in photovoltaic tiles to power the city.
  • Buildings will be made primarily of carbon-neutral wood and combine the traditional craft of Japanese wood joinery with new robotic production methods.
  • Each block will be home to a mix of spaces for living and working.
  • The entire infrastructure of the city will be underground, including its hydrogen power storage and water filtration systems. Also underground will be a network for the autonomous delivery of goods, connecting directly to the buildings above.
  • The homes will serve as test sites for new technology such as in-home robotics to assist with daily life. They will also take advantage of full connectivity, using sensor-based AI to do things like automatically restock residents’ fridges, take out their rubbish and even take care of their health.
  • A major piece of the Woven City puzzle is the Toyota e-Palette, an autonomous vehicle that will provide shared transportation and mobile retail, making deliveries to the research and development labs that will rise above the Central Plaza.

In an age when technology, social media and online retail are replacing and eliminating our natural meeting places, Woven City will explore all kinds of ways to stimulate human interactions in the urban space.

The plan is to break ground in phases, beginning as soon as 2021, and accommodate Toyota employees and their families, retirees, retailers, visiting scientists, industry partners and the general public. The vision is to house 2,000 people to start with, and more as the city grows.

Designers and architects will build a city in the virtual world first, creating a digital twin that will allow testing before building in the real world. With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, they will be able to test AI technology in both the virtual and the physical worlds, maximising its potential.

Aichi Toyoda says he believes this is a project that can benefit everyone, not just Toyota.

“Toyota began as a loom manufacturer and by weaving fabric. Now it is our hope to use our technology to weave together a new kind of city, and a new way of enjoying life.

“As a company committed to mobility for all and as global citizens, I believe it’s up to all of us –especially corporations like Toyota – to do our part to help make the world a better place.”

He says Woven City is one small but significant step toward fulfilling that promise.