• Kyodo, Jiji


Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday held a ground-breaking ceremony for a smart city at the foot of Mount Fuji as a testing ground for new technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence.

About 360 people including Toyota employees will initially move to the so-called Woven City to be built at the 70.8-hectare former Toyota factory site in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture. It will be powered by electricity from fuel cells, which derive power from a hydrogen-oxygen reaction, in addition to solar panels.

Its population, including Toyota group employees, is set to increase to over 2,000.

Toyota describes the city — run with partner companies such as telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. — as a "living laboratory" where it will test autonomous vehicles, personal mobility, robots, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment.

The automaker has commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who designed the 2 World Trade Center in New York City and Google's headquarters in California, to plan the layout of the city.

Toyota said the streets in Woven City will be designated for three type of usage — faster vehicles only, personal transporters and pedestrians, and a pedestrians-only promenade.

The buildings will mostly be made of wood to minimize the carbon footprint, and the homes will use sensor-based AI to check the occupants' health, it said.

Construction work will start in March. Toyota has not said when the construction will finish.

"We will take on the challenge of creating a future where people of diverse backgrounds are able to live happily," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said at the ceremony in Susono.

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