Economy

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

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

But both Uber as a company, led now by emollient CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and cities as an unaware playground for VC-fueled tech giants to do as they please have moved on and woken up to tech's disruptive playbook.

Sony, however, plans to push things even further as its service would be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Daiwa Motor Transportation and the other five taxy companies own a fleet of 10,000 cars which serve Tokyo residents.

The services developed will be offered to all platforms available to taxi operators that wish to participate across Japan. While the company doesn't have any experience in the ride-hailing area, it has long used machine learning for internal projects, such as its Aibo robot dog.

Sony's announcement adds another player to the already fiercely competitive Japanese taxi app market.

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"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, which actually has a very, very strong product", said Khosrowshahi, who is making his first trip to Asia as Uber's CEO. Amid heavy operating losses in the US and a retreat from global markets - Uber has ceded China, Russia and is said to be considering a sale of its Southeast Asian business - Japan has the potential to offer a rare bright spot for a company headed for a public listing next year.

Japan, with its mature smartphone market, could provide an opportunity for growth. In a report from Nikkei (paywall; via Engadget), it seems that Sony could be looking to launch an AI taxi hailing system in Japan while teaming up with a bunch of different taxi companies.

The U.S. ride-hailing company has faced bans, restrictions and protests around the world as it disrupts conventional taxi services.

Now in Japan, non-professional drivers are banned from offering taxi services due to safety concerns.

Last month Rajeev Misra, a SoftBank executive joining Uber's board, suggested in an interview with the Financial Times that Uber focus on core markets such as the US, Europe, Latin America and Australia.


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