Tokyo Taxi Drivers_Featured

Tokyo-based taxi Kokusai Motorcars Co. is planning to equip its vehicles with a camera system that automatically detects when items are left behind. Co-developed by technology consultant Ideacross, there would be four small cameras – two under the front seats, one on the ceiling, and one in the trunk to record images of the back seat before and after a passenger enters the taxi. If a passenger leaves the car forgetting an item that wasn’t there before getting in, the system sounds an alarm.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Kokusai Motorcars will start installing the system in all 3,100 of its taxis next spring at an estimated cost of about JPY 50,000 (US$500) per car. In order to tackle privacy issues, the company has also made it clear that camera signs would be posted in the taxi to alert the passengers of the cameras. The system is also said to not capture clear images of passenger’s faces.

While Tokyo has already been voted to have the world’s third best taxi, this move would definitely challenge the rankings once more. (London and New York were voted as first and second respectively) Plus, it is not uncommon in Japan to be technologically advanced and innovative.

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With this detection system, passengers can now feel less worried about leaving things behind, and also avoid the cumbersome process of retrieving their lost items later. It would also reduce the pressure on taxi drivers in general who are probably used to receiving many left behind items. A big story in Singapore involved a cab driver finding a bag containing S$1.1 million and then returning it to its owner. While this is rare, cab drivers are still used to the common wallet and mobile phone being left in their backseat.

Kokusai Motorcars is planning to also sell their technology to other cab companies. There is no news of plans to sell it overseas yet, but it would definitely be interesting to see whether this technology actually proves effective. The next time I’m take this cab, I might just leave something behind.