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

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

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber Technologies' chief executive officer said on Tuesday at an investor forum that he can see commercialisation of the Uber Air flying taxi service taking place within five to 10 years, according to a report in Reuters.

The U.S. ride-hailing app maker has said it expects flying vehicles to eventually become an affordable method of mass transportation. After Japan, Khosrowshahi is scheduled to visit India, where Uber is competing against local ride-hailing start-up Ola. 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. Khosrowshahi pushed back against that notion in an interview he gave at Davos, saying the company would be "leaning forward" to expand. Local rivals, such as Nihon Kotsu Co., Tokyo's largest cab company, have already released popular taxi-hailing apps. Sony plans to use its AI tech to predict taxi demand and make sure that the right number of cars are available at all times.

The San Francisco-based company, which has failed to gain much ground since launching in 2013 amid stringent regulations, is in talks for a venture with taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co.

Sony said it was planning a joint venture to offer artificial intelligence technology to six taxi operators, which now own a total of 10,000 vehicles in Tokyo.

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Uber's CEO said Japan's taxi utilization rate is 30 percent, while Uber's is more than 50 percent. As a result, Uber is focused on creating its own dispatch system for taxi operators.

While Uber has been providing ride-sharing services via private vehicles in limited locations in rural Japan, it now has no major taxi service partner in metropolitan areas, it said.

The alliance comes as Uber Technologies Inc., the world's biggest ride-hailing startup, is in talks with another cab company as it tries to build its presence in the country. Which sort of limits the reach of ride-sharing companies like Uber. If Sony doesn't get in early, it risks missing out on what could be a hot market.

This month, SoftBank Group Corp and China's Didi Chuxing said they would roll out a venture in Japan this year to provide matching services.