NAGOYA -- Toyota Motor and a nationwide federation of corporate taxi operators have joined hands in a project to help advance the automaker's self-driving technology and make things easier on taxi drivers.
The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations, based in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, hopes the project will produce a support system that fosters a more driver-friendly work environment. Eventually, it wants more women, elderly and recent graduates to apply for jobs as taxi drivers to help alleviate the industry's chronic driver shortage.
The system is expected to automate some parts of driving and services particular to taxis, so as to improve safety as well as passenger convenience.
Toyota and the taxi federation will gather data related to driving and road conditions from over 200,000 taxis operating across Japan. The data will then be used in developing self-driving technologies.
The collaboration will give Toyota a chance to deepen its relations with the taxi industry, a major customer base, ahead of its planned introduction of a next-generation, van-type vehicle for taxi use in fiscal 2017. Much of Japan's taxi fleet is already made up of Toyotas.