Sony may launch an AI-powered taxi hailing system

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Sony adds the intention is for the AI system to be ready in the Spring of 2018, to provide an online based ride-hailing service with the firms mentioned, across Tokyo.

Uber now provides its ride-hailing services to limousines in Tokyo but has started to form an alliance with several taxi companies including Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co. headquartered in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Sony's partnership is the latest in a growing array of tie-ups between taxi firms and tech companies, who see Japan as a potentially lucrative market but are prevented from offering ride-sharing services by stringent rules.

Some of the most vigorous opposition to industry deregulation has come from the "prince of taxis" Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of Japan's largest taxi firm Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd.

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

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Uber's new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, is in Tokyo meeting regulators on his first visit to the region in post.

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. However, has not did not stopped Uber itself from attempting to enter market. "We will be working closely with them through this hard transition", Uber said. Sony and Daiwa Motor declined to comment. Sony's administrations, including applications, will likewise be offered to other taxi administrators in Japan.

Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo said Monday it plans to link up with Uber to provide its app users rides in major Japanese cities with global airports, including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, as well as Okinawa. That's a turnaround from previous boss Travis Kalanick, who largely left the country in the hands of a local manager.

Earlier this month, SoftBank Group Corp. announced a partnership with China's Didi Chuxing and plans to begin trial services this year. "If you're going to do business with SoftBank, you have to get used to the way that they do business with your competition", he said.