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Toyota’s $9.9 billion ‘Robo City’ near Mount Fuji is almost ready to welcome 2,000 residents by 2024

A highly automated utopia is preparing to move in as part of a ‘mass experiment’ at the foot of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji. The place, called Woven City, has been under construction since 2021, with major car brand Toyota as a major supporter.

The futuristic city will serve as a ‘living laboratory’ for Toyota to test its self-driving, sustainable E-palette vehicles. To collect data on how people move around the city, the first 2,000 residents are expected to arrive by the end of the year as part of an £8 billion initiative.

Upon arrival at Woven City, participants will be assigned new ‘smart homes’ that run primarily on hydrogen, making the city very environmentally friendly. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda revealed some key details about the fascinating robo-city.

Toyoda explained how each home would be equipped with solar panel roofs and AI technology for home health monitoring. Furthermore, a report from The Sun suggests that all vehicles and buildings will be connected via a network of data and sensors.

Woven City: a high-tech utopia in the making

Woven City’s homes, built primarily of wood, will feature in-home robotics to assist with daily living and promote residents’ independence. Building an entire city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies,” he said.

This interconnected environment, where people, buildings and vehicles communicate through a network of data and sensors, serves as a true testing ground for connected AI technology.

By analyzing data from both physical interactions and simulated scenarios, researchers can maximize the potential of this technology. The streets of Woven City are separated into three different zones:

  • Pedestrian areas only
  • High-speed roads for autonomous vehicles
  • Boardwalks for slower micromobility options such as bicycles and scooters

Woven City will also prioritize zero-emission vehicles. However, the city will also provide accessible transportation options, including special vehicles for people with limited mobility needs and support for wheelchair users.

Released blueprints showcase Woven City’s innovative design, with a grid-like layout interwoven with natural open spaces to promote social interaction. Toyota collaborated with renowned architectural firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) to design Woven City. BIG is known for its innovative projects, including the two World Trade Centers, the Lego House in Denmark and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.

The design firm’s founder, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, said: “Technologies are beginning to radically change the way we inhabit and navigate our cities. Connected, autonomous, zero-emission and shared mobility solutions will undoubtedly provide opportunities for new forms of urban living. “

A look into the future of city life

A diverse group is expected to arrive by the end of the year, including families, retired couples, retailers and scientists. This first group will pave the way for future residents to participate in this unique urban experiment.

This living laboratory is located at the foot of Mount Fuji, an iconic volcano that last erupted more than 300 years ago.

Although Mount Fuji, which got free Wi-Fi in 2015, is technically classified as an active volcano, its last eruption occurred more than 300 years ago. Volcanologists are closely monitoring the mountain and evacuation plans have been drawn up for various scenarios.

Government data shows that an eruption could lead to ash fall and impact on surrounding areas. However, evacuation plans have been put in place to manage such scenarios.

Professor Toshitsugu Fujii of the University of Tokyo points to the 300-year gap since Mount Fuji’s last eruption (the Huy eruption) as a possible indicator of the continued build-up of magma. He emphasizes that future eruptions cannot be ruled out.

While safety is paramount, major technology companies are actively exploring ways for humans and robots to work together. In February, a report indicated that Microsoft and OpenAI plan to invest in humanoid robotics startup Figure AI, which aims to develop robots to tackle tasks considered dangerous for humans.