The initial community will consist of about 360 residents, mainly the elderly, families with young children and inventors.
Vehicle manufacturer Toyota Motor has begun construction of a laboratory city that serves as a testing field for research and development of new technologies of self-driving, robotics or artificial intelligence.
The city, dubbed Woven City in a nod to the group’s textile manufacturer origins, will be located on a plot of about 700,000 square meters where a former Toyota factory was located near Mount Fuji and closed last year after 53 years of operations. The factory, located in the city of Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, and closed in early December 2020, gave work to about seven thousand people and produced 7.52 million vehicles, from the Toyota Century to the firm’s Japanese taxis.
The new city will have three types of interlocking streets, one for automated driving, one for pedestrians and a third for pedestrians with personal mobility vehicles. There will also be an underground route for the transport of goods. The initial community will consist of about 360 residents, mainly elderly people, families with young children and inventors, and the population is expected to exceed two thousand people over time, including Toyota employees.
The company, which seeks to transform into a broader mobility company, hopes that this infrastructure will serve “to create an environment in which inventions are created in a timely manner with the potential to solve social problems,” it explained in a statement. “The project will bring new technologies to life in a real-world environment in a wide range of areas, including automated driving, personal mobility, robotics and artificial intelligence. It is expected to provide a number of opportunities for companies and researchers around the world,” the firm explained. The city is intended to be “a living laboratory” in constant evolution, the group’s president, Akio Toyoda, said at a ceremony held on Tuesday to inaugurate its construction.
The Woven City project was announced at the Consumer Electronics Fair in Las Vegas, USA, in January 2020 and construction began this week as planned, despite the covid-19 pandemic.