Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system in Japan

Artificial intelligence-based hailing system to be developed in country where ride-sharing services are banned

 Non-professional drivers are barred from offering taxi services on safety grounds in Japan. Photograph: Thomas White/Reuters

Non-professional drivers are barred from offering taxi services on safety grounds in Japan. Photograph: Thomas White/Reuters

 

Sony said on Tuesday it would become the latest blue-chip firm to jockey for position in Japan’s taxi and ride-hailing market, with plans for a joint venture to develop an artificial intelligence-based hailing system.

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

Currently, non-professional drivers are barred from offering taxi services on safety grounds, and ride-hailing companies are limited to services that “match” users to existing taxi fleets via mobile platforms.

Sony plans to build the AI-based hailing platform with Daiwa Motor Transportation and five other domestic taxi firms.

This month, SoftBank Group Corp and China’s Didi Chuxing said they would roll out a venture in Japan this year to provide matching services.

SoftBank is an investor in ride-hailing firms around the world including Didi, most recently becoming Uber Technologies Inc’s largest shareholder in January. – Reuters