Sony Launching AI-Powered Ride-Hailing Service

Kawanabe has set up its own taxi-hailing company, JapanTaxi, winning investment from Toyota Motor Corp along the way, and has 60,000 taxis registered with the service. The technology would use AI to predict demand for taxis and allow companies to more efficiently mobilise their resources. Sony has previously implemented its AI technology in products like its Aibo robot dog.

The electronics giant has signed a letter of intent with Green Cab, International Automobile, Kusumi Transportation, Daiwa Motor Transport, Checker Cab Radio Cooperative Association, and Hinomaru Transportation to improve convenience for customers in the island nation.

Sony is not the only one vying to seize the initiative in Japan's nascent market for cab-hailing platforms. 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 major obstacle is the tough regulation in Japan for companies like Uber.

Didi, meanwhile, has said it's working with SoftBank Group Corp. - which has invested billions in both it and rival Uber - to also create an app. He was speaking with Roos, a co-founding partner at Geodesic Capital, an Uber investor.

Japan is seen as a potentially lucrative ride-hailing market, with regulators under pressure to ease stringent rules. Furthermore, another news came up relating to ride-hailing companies that Daiichi Kotsu Sangyo a cab company based in southern Fukuoka prefecture is in talks with Uber for a collaboration.

The use of AI could also breathe new life into a taxi industry that has seen its profits cut into by ride-hailing apps.

As per the transport ministry, the number of taxi travelers has gone down and it is hoped that through smartphone apps the number can be regained. Efforts are underway to enable online payment for distance-based fares.

Uber's CEO said Japan's taxi utilization rate is 30 percent, while Uber's is more than 50 percent.


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