TOKYO, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Japan's SoftBank Corp. Thursday announced a joint venture with China's Didi Chuxing called DiDi Mobility Japan Corp. to "offer next-generation taxi-hailing services in Japan."
According to a statement from SoftBank, "The joint venture will deploy DiDi's world's most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytic technologies on its open taxi platform. The platform will be available for all taxi companies in Japan."
A pilot project will be launched by DiDi Mobility Japan Corp. in autumn, which will be free of service charges to all taxi companies and operating from Osaka, with the project expanding to Kyoto, Fukuoka, Okinawa, Tokyo and other major cities gradually, SoftBank said.
Passengers will be able to install DiDi Japan's application on their smartphones and through this platform, taxi companies will be able to provide more "focused services in areas with problems, such as weak public transportation and an aging driver base, which can lead to the revitalization of regional economies," said SoftBank.
DiDi Mobility Japan Corp., highlighting the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Japan and contributing the most to tourist-related economic growth here, said that it believes that it can satisfy a greater proportion of the demand among Chinese travelers by having taxi operators use its taxi-hailing platform.
DiDi's platform "is connected to its passenger application that has a total of approximately 550 million registered users and has a roaming function that can be used as is in Japan," the statement said.
While the Japanese government may still be some way behind the autonomous ride-sharing curve compared to other countries, the executives involved in the joint venture see it not only as viable, but a tried-and-tested way to meet domestic and international demands in Japan through innovative solutions that will benefit drivers, consumers, the environment and, the economy.
"Through this joint venture, I am delighted to deliver DiDi's most advanced transportation platform service with AI technology to the Japanese market," Ken Miyauchi, President & CEO of SoftBank Corp. said in a statement on the matter.
"Combining DiDi's outstanding innovation with SoftBank's extensive business base including advanced network infrastructure, I believe the joint venture can provide new value to both consumers and taxi companies in Japan," he said.
Jean Liu, President of Didi Chuxing, said that she believes AI-based solutions could revolutionize the taxi market, with her firm being able to assist in countries, like Japan, developing "smart cities."
"DiDi believes AI-based innovation may contribute to new growth of the taxi industry and the public transportation sectors. We look forward to developing extensive collaboration with all industry players to assist in smart city programs in Japan and Asia," Liu said.
Meanwhile, Stephen Zhu, CEO of DiDi Japan and Vice President of Didi Chuxing, said that DiDi Mobility Japan could help the efficiency of taxi services available in Japan as well as improve customer satisfaction.
"DiDi Mobility Japan's new platform aims to help taxi companies to improve their efficiency and utilization, enhance user satisfaction and build more broad-based demand for taxi services in Japan," said Zhu.
Didi Chuxing (better known as just "DiDi") is the world's leading mobile transportation platform, committed to collaborating with cities, the taxi industry and communities to solve the world's transportation, environmental, and employment challenges with smart transportation innovations.