It shouldn’t be considered that Sony is the first name when you are looking for a ride, but it might be changed in its native Japan very soon. Nikkei reported that the tech giant is pointing an alliance of taxi companies in order to establish an AI-powered hailing platform. The Checker Cab, Green Cab, Kokusai Motorcars, Daiwa Motor Transportation, and Hinomaru Kotsu formed this new alliance. The algorithmic system will efficiently dispatch taxis by studying a host of conditions, such as weather, traffic, and events. For example, it might send a group of drivers near the end of a concert. The company hasn’t yet announced that when it will be available. It is also said that Sony might hope in offering the service outside of Japan.
It may seem odd for Sony to chase after cabs when ridesharing services like Uber are quickly taking hold, but it doesn’t have much choice. Japan has a ban on using private cars for ride-hailing services, which largely kills the ridesharing business model. This gives Sony a toehold in the transportation world without having to limit use to other countries, which could be helpful if and when self-driving cars become the norm. As it is, there’s plenty of competitive pressure. Toyota just poured about $70 million into the app creator JapanTaxi, and it’s working on its own AI-centered taxi system. If Sony doesn’t get in early, it risks missing out on what could be a hot market.