The ambitious planned Woven City, set in the foothills of Mt. Fuji, Japan, brainchild of Toyota Motor Corp. is hoping to become a world leader in smart city technology.
In Japan, demographics and the ageing of its population has forced new innovations to deal with the increased challenges on mobility and healthier living.
Sustainability and the 'green agenda' are increasingly the focus of policy makers across the world as the in the struggle to reach net zero carbon dioxide by 2050 if not earlier.
Woven City, which will serve as a "living laboratory" for futuristic self-driving cars, robot deliveries, smart homes, and artificial intelligence, is now under construction on the 175-acre site of a recently closed Toyota plant.
In his personal investment in Woven City, Toyota President Akio Toyoda stressed the importance of partnerships and collaboration for mobility for all. A smart city project is an essential component of the company's drive.
Toyota intends to have the entire ecosystem powered by hydrogen, and the Japanese energy company Eneos Corp. has agreed to work with Toyota on developing a hydrogen supply chain, from production to delivery to the site.
"If we can build something that has value in a place like Japan and the cities of Japan, I think it can be valuable everywhere," explained Kuffner, a former Google engineer who is now at Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings Inc.
It is anticipated that the city's partial opening will take place as soon as 2024. Initial residents will include seniors, families with children, and inventors, with the number expected to grow to over 2,000 residents, including Toyota employees.
Over 4,700 applications from companies and individuals in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, and education have been submitted as of June for the project.
In essence, the project will allow people with innovative ideas to test new technologies "at scale," get feedback on them from residents, and improve them - an example of continuous improvement, a principle taught by Toyota in pursuit of developing a lean production system.