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Toyota to start building ‘connected city’ in 2021

LAS VEGAS >> Toyota Motor Corp. plans to start construction of a prototype “city of the future” featuring state-of-the-art technology in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, in early 2021, the company said this month.

Toyota made the announcement in Las Vegas at the start of the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 7.

Other major Japanese auto manufacturers and appliance makers also revealed their future designs and technologies during their visits to the show.

Toyota will conduct tests in the prototype city to connect self-driving vehicle operations, robots, household equipment and more.

The city will be built on the site of a Toyota factory that will close at the end of the year. About 2,000 Toyo- ta employees and others will live in the connected city, which will encompass about 173 acres.

In the tests, Toyota plans to use its e-Palette electric vehicles now under development. It plans to run them automatically in the city not only as a means of transportation, but as traveling shops and more.

The city will be populated mainly by wooden buildings and be powered with fuel cells and solar energy.

“Building a complete city from the ground up … is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota.

Amid a changing automobile industry, Toyota has announced its intention to shift from automaking to become a producer of varying transportation services.

Also at the exhibition, Sony Corp. unveiled a prototype electric vehicle equipped with about 30 sensors to enhance safe features.

It plans to conduct a test run of the vehicles on public roads from April through March 2021.

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