A Smarter Taxi from Japan

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Recently at VIA we find ourselves working on a number of transportation related projects. While self-driving cars are undoubtedly one of the dominant trends for the future, in the present there are still many parts of the transportation infrastructure that could (and should!) benefit from the advances in computerization, networking, and human-machine interfaces. We believe many incremental changes together will in turn create large qualitative changes in how a particular company, or even a whole industry operates.

This thinking also guides us towards co-invention and co-creation with customers, where both sides are bringing their domain expertise to the table. We especially like to work with customers who have a vision of how the world should be, as it is the case for Japan Taxi.

Japan leads the way in test-driving many new technologies in practice. Japan Taxi is a software and hardware platform developer doing exactly that, aiming to make taxi travel more convenient, practical, and smarter, both for passengers and taxi operators. They are providing services to more than 120 taxi companies, in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, and their taxi hailing apps are used by millions of people.

We have worked together with Japan Taxi to develop a new “brain” for their taxis that improve the experience for customers, operators, and drivers alike. The resulting system is now being deployed across their supported fleet! Even more, the system is now also available for everyone, and can be adapted to other transportation problems: check out the AMOS-825.

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The system was built from the bottom up to match the issues encountered in transportation. It can easily be powered from voltages available in cars, trucks, or buses. We have also optimized it for quick boot upon ignition, a small but important issue when the system has to be ready to use as soon as the car is ready to roll, as it is in taxis! CAN bus and GPS support are indispensable for vehicle operators while the mobile environment also adds to the requirements of stress and vibration tolerance. To improve on this aspect, we have added extra onboard storage, which – being a chip – has none of the vibration sensitivities of SD card storage, the other common alternative. We have also matched a ready-to-use touch screen with the system, which is just the right size to fit in the confines of automobiles.

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The complete setup includes dispatch, tracking, entertainment, and advertising features, to support Japan Taxi’s requirements for a more connected, enjoyable, and profitable taxi service.

The whole project from concept to finished solution was achieved in a much shorter time-frame than anyone expected. As the system is being widely deployed in the coming weeks and months, we hope that more people will be able to enjoy the fruits of this development, and the new way of working that made it happen. We see a lot of value, and want to engage more in co-creation, vision-driven development, and productization of custom engineering projects.

Now, we are looking forward to our next challenge, and would be very happy to talk if this sounds interesting for you!

VIA Technologies, Inc.