Toyota to transform former car factory into ‘prototype city of the future’

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According to a report on The Verge, Toyota said it will transform the 175-acre site of a former car factory in Japan into a “prototype city of the future” where it can test autonomous vehicles, innovative street design, smart home technology, robotics, and new mobility products on a population of real people who would live there full-time.

“The site, which is located at the base of Mount Fuji, will be designed by famed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. It will house up to 2,000 people, including Toyota employees and their families, and it will be powered by the company’s hydrogen fuel cell technology. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said at CES that the company expects to break ground at the end of 2021”, reports The Verge. 

The masterplan of the city includes separation of transport modes, with highways for faster vehicles only, as well as “personal mobility lanes” for lower speed traffic including electric bikes, scooters and high-tech wheelchair-type vehicles, such as the i-REAL, a concept vehicle unveiled by Toyota in 2012. There will also be dedicated infrastructure for pedestrians.

“A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities,” said BIG’s founder Bjarke Ingels.

“Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life.”

“Toyota envisions these serving a variety of functions, from typical mobility services like ride-sharing and carpooling, to less-typical purposes like serving as mobile office and retail spaces, medical clinics, hotel rooms, and more. These vehicles would congregate in centrally located plazas within Toyota’s prototype city to sell goods or provide services.

The residencies would be equipped with smart home technology, such as in-home robotics to assist with daily living. “The homes will use sensor-based AI to check occupants’ health, take care of basic needs and enhance daily life, creating an opportunity to deploy connected technology with integrity and trust, securely and positively,” the company said.”

Toyota plans to populate Woven City with 2,000 Toyota Motor Corporation employees and their families, as well as retired couples. Their homes will be dripping with sensors, checking on everything from health to provisions. “To move residents through the city, only fully-autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares,” said a Toyota statement, adding that “e-Palettes” will be used for transportation and deliveries, as well as for mobile retail.

Toyota wants Woven City to be a “real-world incubator” and is inviting commercial and academic partners to work on projects in the proposed development.

Via The Verge / Forbes

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