One thing you can always rely on at CES is for one of the big players in the industry to use the collective attention of the world’s press to show off a humanoid robot that has no practical purpose nor any likelihood of making production. Well, at CES 2020 Toyota didn’t disappoint.
This year a little robot was rolled out with the corporate tongue firmly in cheek. No less than Akio Toyoda himself, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, was at CES 2020 to launch what he labeled his own “personal field of dreams”; a township at the foot of Mount Fuji for around 2000 people. Most of us dream of a new car and a caravan in our senior years. When Toyoda-san is not filling my YouTube with images of him racing Lexus LFAs and Toyota Supras, he is busy planning his own vision of how we should live.
Describing himself, with his trademark humor, as a Japanese Willy Wonka, he is pouring resources into an old Toyota manufacturing plant at the foot of Mount Fuji, creating what he describes as a “woven city”. Teaming with Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (think Google HQ in California and London), a vision was presented at CES 2020 of a utopian existence that, with the assistance of AI, automation, and IoT, could actually work. Indeed, the deep friendship on show between Toyoda and Bjarke was a breath of fresh air when so many ‘partnerships’ wheeled out at CES are starkly fake or strained.
Toyoda reminded us that Toyota started as a weaving company and that Toyota is now weaving a city; the ‘woven city’. The first sod will be turned next year and from what I saw, I want in.