Okinawa taxis test multilingual speech translation system

KDDI Corp., KDDI Research, Inc., Okinawa Prefecture Hire and Taxi Association, and Okinawa Cellular Telephone Company have started testing a “Multilingual Speech Translation System” in taxicabs. The system is aimed at assisting foreign customers who use taxi rides in Okinawa and the testing period is scheduled to run until March 2018.

This service can translate English, Chinese, and Korean, and give a customer and driver instant translation. Participating taxis will also have a tablet in the cab to show the history of translations and to assist in smooth communication.

“Open Labo in Naha” demonstrated the latest translation technology of the KDDI group at Okinawa Cellular Telephone Company headquarters in Naha, Thursday, in a real taxi.

KDDI aims to commercialize the system by 2020. They conducted similar demonstrations and tests in November 2015 in Tottori Prefecture, and in December 2016 in Tokyo. Okinawa is the third location where the system is tested.

Akira Okimoto, a manager of the KDDI Technology Development Strategy Group, said, “We are testing the system in real-life practical situations, and this time we are conducting our test in Okinawa where many foreign tourists are visiting recently.

50 taxicabs are taking part in the demonstration test that is the largest number of all three tests. The taxis taking part in the experiment will be located at Naha Airport, Wakasa Cruise Ship Berth and other locations with many foreign fares.

More than 3,000 place names are entered in the “Okinawa Dictionary” of the system that distinguished the locations by GPS.