Sony takes on ride-hailing in Japan as Uber looks for partners

20 February, 2018, 18:30 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi ride-hailing firms Uber Japan services taxi services Ola transportation service Soft Bank Uber investment Asian taxi 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.

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. Basically instead of taxis being dispatched manually via a main center, this AI hailing system will use algorithms to determine where to send taxis most efficiently. Sony's administrations, including applications, will likewise be offered to other taxi administrators in Japan. Sony says it intends to introduce different packages to suit the different needs of each platform. The big reason that Uber and Sony are partnering with existing taxi companies is that strict rules bar non-professional drivers for offering taxi services.

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 is as far removed from the self driving business as Google is", Mueller continued. "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".


Apps have become central to efforts by the taxi industry to improve service, with a number of major providers in Tokyo starting to experiment with such services. SoftBank is an investor in Uber.

Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo said Monday it plans to link up with Uber to provide its app users rides in major Japanese cities with worldwide airports, including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, as well as Okinawa. Like it has in numerous markets where it now operates, Uber has faced opposition from local taxi groups in Morocco who claim that the ride-hailing company's operations undercuts their business.

Sony's ride-hailing service will be based on its artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the company said in a press release. Daiichi Koutsu has already announced plans to team with Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing company.

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