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Behind the Scenes of Toyota's Woven City

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Jan. 24, 2020—Imagine a world where no one drives. Seriously. The only cars on the road are self-driving vehicles. Sounds impossible?

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, and as part of its transition from a transportation company to a mobility company, Toyota has announced its intent to build the Woven City, at a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. 

The plan for the city has been in the concept phase for a few years but in the planning phase for the past year, says Nathan Kokes, mobility and advanced technology communications manager for Toyota Motor North America. The Woven City is part of a goal to do advanced research and learn the best opportunity for merging technologies and products with automotive at a community scale. 

"Akio Toyoda's vision is to really create this, what he calls, "living laboratory" and the vision is for leading automotive companies, technology companies and various future-oriented companies around the world want to participate can come together in this city in Japan and test technologies that will advance human societies around the world," Kokes says. 

Kokes says the plan is to break ground on the city in 2021. The city will initially be able to hold about 2,000 people but the company is focused on continuously improving the environment. 

The city is planned to be fully sustainable, with buildings made mostly of wood to help minimize the carbon footprint and using traditional Japanese wood joinery, combined with robotic production methods. The rooftops will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power in addition to power generated by hydrogen fuel cells.  Toyota plans to weave in the outdoors throughout the city, with native vegetation and hydroponics.

Despite the announcement, Kokes says the company does not envision self-driving cars being widespread in the near future. 

"Toyota sees self-driving cars being widespread everywhere as something to happen very far in the future," Kokes says. " There's still a lot of development and technology testing and advancement. I think it's not just Toyota saying that but all these players working on these technologies."

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