With the coming of spring, Sony could form a joint venture with six taxi operators in Japan. This latest initiative from the Japanese electronic powerhouse seems somehow to be influenced by the world’s biggest ride-hailing startup, Uber Technologies Inc., which is reportedly planning to expand in Japan in collaboration with some Japanese cab companies.
The lackluster ride-hailing industry of Japan has recently been under a lot of speculations. The 1.7 trillion yen ($16 billion) taxi market in Japan is one of the biggest ones in the world. Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive Officer of Uber, will be visiting the country soon. Since being launched in 2013, User performance in the country hasn’t really been that much promising. It has left them with no other option but to go into talks for a venture with taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co.
The Checker Cab Group, Daiwa Motor Transportation Co., Hinomaru Kotsu Co., Kokusai Motorcars Co., Kotobuki Taxi Co., and Green Cab Co., with whom Sony is looking forward to forming an alliance, possesses a combined fleet of more than 10,000 cars in the greater Tokyo area. The firm is working on the Sony ride-hailing app, which will be powered by artificial intelligence. It will be capable of providing a payment service. Sony will make this app available to all the taxi operators in the country. The recent partnership between SoftBank Group Corp. and the Didi Chuxing of China could see the trial services being introduced by this year. Toyota Motor Corp., On the other hand, has decided to collaborate with Nihon Kotsu Co.
Sony clearly lacks experience in the ride-hailing industry. But the machine learning that they have been using for their internal projects like the Aibo robot dog might come in handy in this recent initiative. Sony made its deep-learning software tools accessible to everyone to lure artificial-intelligence developers. The financial services division of Sony, which includes car insurance, might be useful as well.