Sony Corporation, the Japanese electronics maker, recently announced that it will partner with taxi companies and build an AI-based ride-hailing system that will manage taxi dispatches and predict demand based on factors like weather, traffic and local events. Daiwa Motor Transportation, Hinomaru Kotsu, Kokusai Motorcars, Green Cab and Checker Cab Group will be Sony’s partner companies.
The ride-hailing system is supposed to be launched this spring and the services and apps will be offered to other taxi operators in Japan. There are certain regulations in Tokyo and other major Japanese cities that require taxi drivers to hold special licenses and prevent companies like Uber to offer their ride-sharing services. So Uber currently operates only in small, rural towns where there weren’t any taxi companies. As a result, ride-hailing apps in Japan match passengers with licensed taxis instead of non-professional drivers.
App developer Japan Taxi and Toyota had announced a partnership this month to create another AI-based ride-hailing service that can give a competition to Sony’s service. Japan Taxi said that one-fourth of taxis in Japan, i.e. about 60,000 taxis, are registered on its service, which it claims gives it the biggest market share among Japanese taxi-dispatch apps. Others rivals are Uber and;Didi Chuxing, which are both invested in by Softbank. Didi has already formed a partnership with taxi firm, Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo to offer services to visitors from mainland China along with Uber.