A City with no drivers

Many people have dreamt of creating utopian cities that are free of emissions, where people have robots taken care of their needs, and medicine is given freely — a connected city with a connected ecosystem. Alas, cities are already built, and redoing a city would not be economically feasible.

At Consumer Electronics Show (CES), CES 2020, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, unveiled the Woven City to be built at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan on 175 acres that used to be a Toyota manufacturing plant. The city will be wholly sustainable, and the only vehicles allowed on the property will be autonomous vehicles.

The connected ecosystem would be powered by hydrogen fuel cells underneath the city, along with transportation pipelines that would deliver goods. The prototype city plans to break ground in early 2021. Around 2000 people will reside in the City of the Future. Ingels described the real-life urban city as close to emission-free as possible that combines wood structures with traditional joinery and autonomous vehicles.

This “living laboratory” will be designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, Founder, and Creative Director, of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The full-time residents will be researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes, and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment. Robots will be sensor-based AI and able to check occupants’ health, take care of basic needs, and enhance daily life.

Toyota is calling it a woven city to showcase the three modes of transportation; autonomous vehicles (the only vehicles allowed), passive commuting (segways, bicycles), or walking. At the unveil, Toyoda, invited partners to come to Japan and collaborate with other commercial and academic partners. Toyota is interested in scientists and researchers from around the world to work with Toyota and on their own projects in this one-of-a-kind, real-world incubator.

“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,” said Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation.

As autonomous and automated as the city will be, Ingells described the city hub as a place for all humans to gather and the central plaza for social gatherings, designed to bring the community together. Because in the end, it’s all about the human touch, the human connection.

Toyota-Woven-City-150x300 Toyota's BIG Woven City at CES2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Toyota Motor Corporation President and CEO Akio Toyoda takes the stage at a press conference Monday afternoon January 6, 2020, during press briefing day at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He announced the planned development of their Woven City, which will be built starting this year near Mt. Fuji, in Japan. The city will serve as a real-world lab for the development of a completely connected community. Photo by J. Kyle Keener