Toyota Motor Corp plans to build a prototype "city of the future" at the base of Mt Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, internet of things devices, smart homes and other technologies.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled the company’s plan for what it calls The Toyota "Woven City", a reference to the company’s original origins as a loom manufacturer.
James Kuffner, chief executive officer for the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development said that, “It's hard to learn something about a smart city if you are only building a smart block." The "Woven City" idea had been under discussion for more than one year, and has the goal of creating safer, cleaner, more fun cities and learning lessons about “smart cities” and how people interact with them that could be applied around the world in the future.
Toyota’s “Woven City” will have police, fire and ambulance services, and schools and could be home to a mix of Toyota employees, retirees and others who may choose to live and work in the new development. The development will be built on the site of a Toyota automobile factory that will be closed at the end of 2020.
Woven City will begin with 2,000 residents in its initial years, and will serve as a home to researchers who are enacting various projects with the city.
Danish architect Bjarke Ingels talks about Woven City, a prototype city of the future, at a Toyota Motor Corporation news
conference during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Monday – Photo: Steve Marcus, Reuters
Toyota has not disclosed the project development costs but only said that construction is scheduled to begin in 2021
The plan for a futuristic community on 175 acres (71 hectares) is a big step beyond proposals from Toyota's rivals.
Executives at many major automakers have talked about how cities of the future could be designed to cut climate-changing emissions, reduce congestion and apply internet technology to everyday life, but Toyota’s proposal showcases not only the ambition of Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, but also the financial and political resources Toyota can bring to bear, especially in its home country.
"You know if you build it, they will come," said Toyoda, who called the project "my personal 'field of dreams.'"
Toyota Housing, a company unit, has sold more than 100,000 homes in Japan in 37 years.
Toyota said it had commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to design the community. Ingels' firm designed the 2 World Trade Center building in New York and technology giant Google's offices in Silicon Valley and London.
Toyota said it is open to partnerships with other companies seeking to use the project as a testing ground for technology.