Japan's Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system

Posted February 23, 2018

Sony's alliance is with Checker Cab Group, Daiwa Motor Transportation Co., Hinomaru Kotsu Co., Kokusai Motorcars Co., Kotobuki Taxi Co. and Green Cab Co., which have a combined fleet of more than 10,000 cars in the greater Tokyo area, according to the statement. This would concentrate more data into a single service, likely making it even more attractive to taxi providers and riders alike.

For now, no launching date has released by Sony for the service or if the company has plans to use the AI-powered ride-hailing system outside Japan.

Khosrowshahi indicated that his company will continue aggressive investment.

The ride-hailing company has been floating the idea of a flying taxi service since 2016, when it published a 99-page white paper on "Uber Elevate", its vision for on-demand urban air transportation.

In the taxi industry, it also appears to see an opportunity to provide digital payment services, which would create a steady stream of fee income over the long term.

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Currently, non-professional drivers can not offer taxi services due to safety.

Uber's newest chief executive Khrosrowshahi noted that if Uber wants to be successful, tbose parties will need to open its doors to new partnerships.

Uber has only been allowed to operate as a traditional taxi company and has reportedly not expanded as quickly in the country.

By taking all of those factors into account, the algorithmic system should be able to dispatch taxis more effectively. Instead, Reuters notes, ride-hailing companies can only match users to existing taxi companies. And the country's so-called "prince of taxis" Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of Japan's largest taxi firm Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd., has been consistent in his opposition to deregulating the industry.

"The question is what does Toyota think about ride-sharing", said Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center in Tokyo. He was speaking with Roos, a co-founding partner at Geodesic Capital, an Uber investor.

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