Toyota plans smart city for Japan

Car giant will build a prototype on 175-acre area at the base of Mount Fuji for its employees

Toyota will build a prototype "smart city" at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji, the car giant announced at CES. 

It will be called "Woven City", which is a reference to the company's origins as a loom manufacturer. The aim is to build a prototype of a city powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which will function as a laboratory for autonomous cars, smart homes, AI and other smart technologies.

"It's hard to learn something about a smart city if you are only building a smart block," James Kuffner, CEO for the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, told Reuters.

Kuffner added that the city will have schools, police, fire and ambulance services, and could potentially be home to a mix of Toyota employees, retirees and others. 

The development site is a 175-acre area that is currently a car factory that is set to close by the end of 2020. In the coming years, Toyota hopes that 2,000 residents will settle into the city that will also serve as a home to the researchers. 

As yet, no cost has been disclosed for the project, but construction is scheduled for early 2021 and its executives have said it has a budget. 

The company's chief executive, Akio Toyoda called the project his personal field of dreams and even quoted the film on stage saying "You know if you build it, they will come."

The company has commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to design the community. Ingels and his firm designed Google's offices in Silicon Valley and in London.

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