Woven City - Toyota's Living Laboratory

Toyota are building a new city at the base of Mount Fuji. The 175 acre site will be brought to life by Danish architect Bjarjk Ingels. Plans were announced in January 2020 and construction started early this year (2021). Electricity generated by hydrogen powered fuel cells will be the main energy supply – similar to the technology used for the ground-breaking Mirai.

This Woven City, its name a nod to Toyota’s roots and how technology of the future will be ‘woven’ into the fabric, is envisioned as a ‘living laboratory’. Although the city will initially be home to around 360 residents, mainly senior citizens and families, eventually the population will increase to two thousand. This number will include Toyota employees and researchers, who will be able to test and develop technologies such as artificial intelligence in a real world environment.​

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Connected way of living

"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,” says Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation. “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."

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Design for life

Many of the buildings in Woven City will be built of wood and use ancient Japanese woodworking techniques, but executed by industrial robots. The wooden houses will also use solar panel-covered roofs for powering everyday needs. Vegetation will be closely ‘woven’ into the buildings and surroundings, maintained by in-built watering systems. Local parks will also be a feature. Embedded sensors and high speed connectivity will allow a completely different way of living and working.​

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Cleaner energy

The use of hydrogen is cost effective, as storing it is less expensive, reliance on large mineral intensive batteries will not be required. Vehicles and people will be separated on three types of road, with faster moving traffic kept away from the core of the city. Residents will be transported by zero emissions, driverless vehicles and deliveries made by Toyota’s e-pallet autonomous vehicle, originally designed for the Tokyo Olympics.

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City of the future

This project could establish that the cities of the future will be nothing like cities of today and, perhaps, much more like the villages and small towns of the past. Empathising the local, using low-impact technology and reducing the need to travel. Indeed, the only thing ‘big’ about cities of the future will be the silent, unseen utilisation and beneficial leverage of ‘big data’.

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