Toyota gets into the smart taxi game, hopes to crush Uber, others

Can the giant automaker use this new taxi venture to help fast-forward autonomous driving technology?

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt

In its continued bid for global dominati… I mean, to transition into a mobility company, has added a ride-hailing-like aspect to its business in Japan with the help of Japan Taxi and others.

This is great news if you're in Japan and need to go somewhere, because Toyota has joined forces with one of Japan's largest taxi companies and a telecommunications company, KDDI. This smart taxi/ride-hailing venture is being billed by the company as a way of collecting a great deal of data for future self-driving efforts.

Tokyo Motor Show Begins
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Tokyo Motor Show Begins

Toyota has been working with Japan Taxi for sometime now, designing a new taxi for them which is now being fitted with the TransLog device.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The heart of Toyota's plan is its TransLog device, which connects to an artificial intelligence-based dispatch system for Japan Taxi's fleet. This will allow the taxis to more accurately place cars to maximize efficiency in busy areas. At the same time, TransLog will collect GPS data, video and other vehicle data.

TransLog also uses smartphone data and weather forecasts to help refine its algorithms. It's an incredibly advanced system and has helped Toyota and Japan Taxi achieve an accuracy rating of around 94 percent.

The company will be up against tough competition in the Japanese market with Uber , Lyft, Grab and all vying for market share and China's Didi set to debut later this year. Toyota's big advantages come in the form of cars, capital and a leg up on research and development.