The multinational automotive manufacturer, Toyota, announced at CES (the annual trade show run by the Consumer Technology Association) that they will be building a prototype ‘city of the future’ in the site of a former car factory in Japan.

According to Toyota the ‘Woven City’ will function as a “living laboratory” inhabited by 2,000 full-time residents and researchers in order to provide a ‘real-world environment’ for the ongoing research taking place on the site. The inhabitants, buildings and vehicles will be connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, allowing Toyota to test connected AI technology, to optimise this technology for use in the real world.

The 175-acre site at the base of Mount Fuji will be used for futuristic business activities of all kinds, including the testing of autonomous vehicles, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence. The groundbreaking for the site is planned for early 2021. Broadening the idea-pool for the town of tomorrow, Toyota has extended an open invitation to collaborate with other commercial and academic partners, while interested scientists and researchers from around the world will be able to come and work on their own projects in this one-of-a-kind, real-world incubator.

"We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future, to take advantage of this unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all," said Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation.

Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of the eponymous Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has been commissioned to design the Woven City, further to his team’s work on high-profile projects such as 2 World Trade Center in New York, Lego House in Denmark, and Google's Mountain View and London headquarters.

With roofs covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power, buildings made mostly of wood using traditional Japanese joinery and robotised production methods, the city is set to be fully sustainable. The prototype city is being developed by a car manufacturer in a former car factory, so understandably there is a prioritisation of their vehicles as an integral part of transport around the city, but the website also states, “Only fully autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares to move residents around.”

The desire to become fully sustainable is a vision that various industries, including the superyacht market, share today and, while the superyacht industry remains some way off, great strides are already being made in the worlds of sustainability and automation. However, one hopes that the urbanisation of the previously mentioned technologies, including autonomy, robotics and AI, as they start to intertwine with the everyday lives of the Woven City’s residents, may quicken the pace at which they will filter into other industries.

In a recent conversation with SuperyachtNews regarding the upcoming edition of The Superyacht Design Forum, Justin Olesinski – Managing Director, Olesinski, informed us, “We’ve been using machine-learning [ML] for about five years now but it’s really stepping up and we are investing a lot into this area. We have three people working at Olesinski who are purely focused on ML and artificial intelligence, and we do believe it will be the direction that the whole industry will go."

From 12 – 14 May, during The Superyacht Design Forum, we will provide our industry with the opportunity to learn about the most advanced technologies being explored by industries external to our own, such as the development of Toyota’s Woven City, and how these may one day be fully integrated into the build process and following use of a superyacht.

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