Toyota’s Robot City

Robots have trouble doing a lot of basic things, including delivering pizza and rescuing people, because they have limited ability to handle uncontrolled environments. Lacking full senses, not to mention common sense, robots often fall apart — or just fall down — when they meet surprises.

U.S. robot makers are working hard to improve robots’ ability to cope with uncontrolled environments. In Japan, Toyota is taking a different approach.

Woven City will be built at the foot of Mt. Fuji, starting next year. It is the first city to be designed specifically for human-robot interaction. Toyota is reusing an old factory site to build the 175 acre city.

Toyota says there will be long-term full-time residents, as well as guest researchers living in Woven City. Streets are laid out into sensible separate routes for autonomous vehicles, pedestrians, and “personal mobility devices” such as scooters. Smart homes and business spaces will be integrated with recreational spaces, and each block of buildings will be built around a central courtyard or park.

Making robots at home

The carefully planned, controlled environment is perfect for robots. “With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology… in both the virtual and the physical realms… maximizing its potential,” said Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Robots will build the wooden buildings, which will be powered with Toyota’s hydrogen technology. Robots will also deliver goods throughout the city, using underground roads. Household robots will help the residents, including elderly people. Homes will also contain AI sensors for health.

Human health and environmental responsibility are central tenets of the city plan. But robots will also feel at home in Woven City. Providing a controlled environment for robots will allow them to be more successful than they are in a typical, organic city.

Factories are the other place where robots are given a controlled environment. If you need support with the Rexroth electric drive and control systems in your factory, we should be your first call. We specialize in Rexroth motion control systems.

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