Japanese automotive giant Toyota has unveiled plans to build a prototype city of the future, which will serve as a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels will design the Woven City, which will be located on a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Toyota expects to break ground on the site early next year.

The Woven City, which is planned to be fully sustainable, will house upto 2,000 people including Toyota employees and their families. It will also serve as a home to researchers who will develop and test new technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment.

The city’s masterplan includes weaving together three different types of streets or pathways, each for a specific type of user.

One street would be for faster vehicles only. The second for a mix of lower speed, personal mobility and pedestrians, and the third for a park-like promenade for pedestrians only.

Toyota Motor president Akio Toyoda said: “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.

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“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 … maximizing its potential.”

Buildings in the Woven city will be mostly made from wood to minimise carbon footprint. Traditional Japanese wood joinery will be used, along with robotic production methods.

Rooftops of the buildings will be covered with photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power apart from the energy generated by hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota stated that native vegetation and hydroponics will be used throughout the city.

Residences will include latest technologies such as in-home robotics to assist in daily living and AI-based sensors to check the health of occupants.

Bjarke Ingels Group founder and creative director Bjarke Ingels said: “A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities. Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life.

“With the breadth of technologies and industries that we have been able to access and collaborate with from the Toyota ecosystem of companies, we believe we have a unique opportunity to explore new forms of urbanity with the Woven City that could pave new paths for other cities to explore.”


Image: Toyota’s new prototype Woven City will be located near Mt. Fuji. Credit: Toyota Motor Corporation.