New “Smart” City Becomes a Reality


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Akio Toyota looks to bring the idea of a ‘smart’ city to reality

Kate Shanahan, Staff Writer

In 2019, rumors of a ‘smart’ city where researchers plan to use to test artificial intelligence, robots, and self-driving cars broke out in the media. However, the rumors have been confirmed as the project was officially announced to the public. 

Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyota, announced the project at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The japan based car making company, Toyota, will be collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a Danish architect firm. BIG designed the two World Trade Centers in New York and both of Google’s headquarters in London and Silicon Valley. 

The plans for the city will become a reality in Woven City, an area about 60 miles from Tokyo, Japan. Woven City will take its form on a 175-acre location which was previously home to a Toyota factory. The smart city is projected to break ground in 2021 in the foothills of Japan’s Mount Fuji and there is no estimated completion date. 

The design of the city created by BIG consists primarily of wooden structures and the firm plans on using robotics to construct some areas. BIG’s plan features parks, a plaza, and car-free promenades. Ingels stresses the importance of public spaces and human connectivity and interactions. The blueprints were also inspired by Japan’s past and culture maintaining characteristics of the country’s architecture. Sweeping roofs and traditional joinery techniques are aimed to be incorporated into Woven City.

Advanced technology, powered by hydrogen fuel cells, will be integrated into the homes in the city. The city, referred to as a “living laboratory” by Toyota, plans on housing full time residents along with researchers who will experiment and advance the technologies. Futuristic technologies being tested include robotics, smart homes, and personal mobility.

The homes will act as testing sites for sensor based artificial intelligence and in-home robotics. The AI is being tested to do simple household tasks such as restocking a fridge or taking out trash. Eventually, they could be responsible for monitoring resident’s health. The science behind the city will be hidden underground, including power storage and water filtration systems.

The first residents of Woven City will be the firm’s employees and their families, retired employees, retailers, researchers, and other project partners. Toyota is anticipating approximately two thousand residents in the beginning stages of the futuristic city.