Sony is building an AI-based taxi hailing system in Japan

Sony is building an AI-based taxi hailing system in Japan

Sony is building an AI-based taxi hailing system in Japan

Sony's partnership is the latest in a growing array of tie-ups between taxi firms and tech companies, who see Japan as a potentially lucrative market but are prevented from offering ride-sharing services by stringent rules.

The companies will form a joint venture this spring to develop a taxi-hailing app, though Sony said further discussions would be held before any legally-binding agreement is inked.

Sony's push comes at the same time that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is now in Tokyo, is attempting to make new inroads into the Japanese market.

Sony shares ended Tuesday's Asian trading session a little in the red, after the Japanese-based business announced it was entering a joint, ride-hailing venture with six taxi firms. Toyota just poured about $70 million into the app creator JapanTaxi, and it's working on its own AI-centered taxi system. It is only possible for companies to "match" users to established taxi fleets through mobile applications. According to Bloomberg, Khosrowshahi, who joined Uber last August, said he believes Japan is an "incredibly opportunity", but that the company's previous approach "frankly didn't work". "It's clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind, and in particular a partnership with the taxi industry here".

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Building a taxi-centric platform only makes sense for Sony because of Japanese legislation that bans any ride-sharing services that uses private cars. Toyota Motor Corp. has teamed up with Nihon Kotsu Co. By combining Uber's brand, technology, along with demand from tourists and partnerships with the taxi industry, he said the result would be a "win-win" for Uber and the taxi industry.

The alliance comes as Uber Technologies Inc., the world's biggest ride-hailing startup, is in talks with another cab company as it tries to build its presence in the country. It also plans to launch its Uber Eats service in Egypt later this year. For the time being, the platform that Sony is developing is focused on the Japanese market only.

Earlier this month, the company, together with Didi Chuxing, said that they will roll out a taxi matching service in Japan.

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