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Sony to develop AI-powered taxi-hailing service

Japanese consumer electronics maker Sony Corp. will form a joint venture with five taxi operators in Japan to build a taxi dispatch system that uses artificial intelligence, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Feb. 20.

The operators are Tokyo-based Daiwa Motor Transportation Co. Ltd., Hinomaru Kotsu, Kokusai Motorcars, Green Cab and Checker Cab.

The joint venture is aimed at dispatching taxis more efficiently through algorithms that analyze ride history, traffic and weather conditions and event schedules, according to the report.

The news comes as Sony is looking to boost the use of its AI technology in consumer and business applications, the Nikkei added.

Additionally, the company is reportedly also considering providing digital payment services for the taxi industry.

The report said Sony's entry into the field places it in competition with SoftBank Group Corp.-backed Uber Technologies Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp., whose unit Toyota Tsusho invested in Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab in August 2017. Most recently, Toyota also invested $70 million in JapanTaxi Co. Ltd. on Feb. 8 to improve Japan's taxi industry.