Sony is leading an alliance of taxi companies to create an AI-powered hailing system.
While Uber brought us on-demand taxi rides at the press of a button, Sony wants to use AI to further improve on the model. By studying conditions such as traffic, weather, and current events — taxis can be dispatched automatically where needed.
One example, which many of us will have experienced, is the frustration of getting transport home after a concert. Sony’s algorithm would ensure a fleet of taxis are ready to pick up a surge of attendees exiting the event. More taxis could be dispatched if the weather conditions are poor and people are less likely to walk and use alternative transport such as buses.
Sony is currently focusing on its native market of Japan for the initial release; with no word of plans to release elsewhere. Japan has a ban on the use of private vehicles for ridesharing which enables Sony to gain a foothold in a market with little competition.
However, the company will have to move fast. Automotive giant Toyota is also looking for a slice of the market and poured $70 million into JapanTaxi, another company which is working on an AI-powered taxi system.
The taxi companies involved in Sony’s alliance includes Checker Cab, Daiwa Motor Transportation, Green Cab, Hinomaru Kotsu, and Kokusai Motorcars.
As self-driving cars grow in prominence, AI hailing systems like what Sony is developing will become invaluable. The company has a chance at becoming a leader in what’s set to become a very lucrative market.
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