At the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, Toyota is planning to build a city of the future powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells where it will test and develop new technologies from personal mobility to AI, and smart homes.
The 175-acre, fully-connected ecosystem called Woven City will house over 2,000 residents and researchers and is a prototype venture to act as a real-world incubator and show how the world’s urban locations can use technology for better, smarter, and more sustainable 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 infrastructure. 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,” said Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation president.
One of the biggest aspects of this is mobility, which Toyota will introduce its Toyota e-Palette, zero-emission vehicle to move residents and deliveries throughout the city.
Under the city’s masterplan, street use has three designations: for faster vehicles only; for a mix of lower-speed vehicles, personal mobility and pedestrians; and for pedestrians only (a park-like promenade). These three street types will weave together in an organic grid pattern to help accelerate the testing of autonomous transport.
The city is planned to be fully sustainable, with buildings made mostly of wood using traditional Japanese joinery and robotized production methods, to minimize the carbon footprint. The roofs will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power, adding to the energy produced by hydrogen fuel cells.
Toyota, which created the Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle, has been working on the technology for a number of years and will take valuable research from the prototype city on honing the energy source. Seen as the possible future for vehicle propulsion, the living laboratory will serve to hopefully help bring the technology to mass market sooner and cheaper.
Toyota has commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CEO of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), to design Woven City. Ground-breaking for the site is scheduled for early 2021.