Toyota’s Woven City: Seven Things to Know

Toyota unveils plans for prototype "city of the future" at CES

January 08, 2020
If You Build It -- Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda unveiled plans for the Woven City, a city of the future built near the base of Mt. Fuji. Toyoda called it his “Field of Dreams.”

At CES in Las Vegas, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda unveiled what could be the company’s most ambitious design yet: a prototype “city of the future” that reimagines how we live – while co-existing with technology and each other.

The project incorporates mobility innovations, future technologies, robotics, smart homes and artificial intelligence. To top it off – it’s all powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Sound incredible? It is. Sound like a big deal for the company? It absolutely is.  

Here are seven things to know about the Woven City:
 
Where: The Woven City will be developed on a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan.

The Idea: Toyoda envisions a “living laboratory,” where the company’s emerging technologies co-exist, woven together to create an ever-better society.
“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,” Toyoda said. “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 physical realms… maximizing its potential.”

The Design:  Toyota commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels for the Woven City. Regarded as a visionary in his field, Ingels designed 2 World Trade Center in New York and Google’s new California headquarters.

“We are excited to begin work to execute Akio’s vision,” Ingels said. “A project of this scale and magnitude will be our most ambitious to date.”
A Vision for the Future -- Toyota’s Woven City will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells. It will incorporate mobility innovations, future technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence. It will also include neighborhood parks and a large central park for recreation, as well as a central plaza for social gatherings, designed to bring the community together. Toyota believes that encouraging human connection will be an equally important aspect of this experience.

The masterplan divides streets into three lanes: one for faster vehicles, one for lower speed, personal mobility vehicles and pedestrians, and a park-like promenade reserved for pedestrians only. The three lanes weave together in a grid pattern to help facilitate autonomous technology.

Sustainability is big component, too. Buildings will mostly be made of wood to minimize the carbon footprint, using traditional Japanese wood joinery and 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. You’ll also see lots of native vegetation and hydroponics.

Homes will have the latest human support technologies to improve daily living, like in-home robotics. Sensor-based AI can check the health of people who live in the homes and assist with their basic needs.

And to help people move through the city, main thoroughfares will be restricted to zero-emission, fully autonomous vehicles. Toyota’s e-Palettes will be a major piece of this too – used for moving people, delivering goods, and changeable mobile retail.

When: The first groundbreaking is planned for 2021.

The Name: By now, you’ve probably figured out the name is a tribute to Toyota’s origins as a loom company.  In its early years, Toyota transformed how people wove fabrics. In the 21st century, that commitment to kaizen continues – but now, the company hopes to transform and improve the way people live.

Who Will Live There: The Woven City will be populated by Toyota Motor Corporation team members and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists and industry partners. The company plans for 2000 people to start, with more added as the project evolves.

Open Invitation: Toyoda invited any interested commercial or academic partners, scientists and across the globe to collaborate on the project.

“We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future, to take advantage of this unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all,” Toyoda said.

For a video of what the Woven City will look like, click here

By Kristen Orsborn

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