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16 06 2017 03

TOKYO - Japanese robotics maker ZMP Inc has partnered with a taxi operator in Tokyo, as part of its plans to launch a self-driving taxi in the city in time for the 2020 Olympics, CEO Hisashi Taniguchi said on Thursday.

Japan's taxi industry, faced with a labor crunch due to an aging population, has been looking at new technologies to drive growth. The sector may also have to deal with more competition in the future if the government allows ride-sharing services such as Uber to operate across the country.

"Autonomous taxis and the taxi industry can grow and prosper together," Taniguchi told reporters, after announcing ZMP's partnership with Hinomaru Kotsu.

Hinomaru said it had 607 cars and that it was one of the top ten Tokyo taxi firms by fleet size.

"We have been trying to improve diversity by hiring more new graduates, women and foreigners, but this will not be enough to ease labor shortages," Hinomaru President Kazutaka Tomita said.

"We will have to compensate for the lack of supply by using autonomous driving technology."

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Tags: Mobility

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