Sony unveils Vision-S 02 Electric concept car and Sony Mobility Inc

Japanese tech giant Sony has unveiled Vision-S 02, a new electric concept car, and announced that it will create a spin off company – Sony Mobility Inc, with which it hopes to explore the growing EV market.

This is the latest iteration of the Vision-S concept, which first came to be in January 2020. Since then, the concept has been publicly road tested – in December 2020 – and has been subjected to 5G driving tests in April 2021. The brand says it will continue to apply its cutting-edge technologies to provide new experiences in the realm of mobility, which is undergoing a shift to electric vehicles (EV).

According to Sony, Vision-S continues its aim of evolving mobility “to be even closer to people, while developing technologies centered on safety and security, adaptability, and entertainment”.

The Vision-S 02 SUV-type prototype vehicle uses the same EV/cloud platform as the prototype (Vision-S 01), which is being tested on public roads, Sony said. By offering entertainment experiences utilising the large interior space and variations of a 7-seater, this new prototype will, together with Vision-S 01, promote the accommodation of a large variety of lifestyles within a society where values are becoming increasingly diversified, the company claims.

Sony chairman, president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, commented: “The excitement we received after we showed off the (original) Vision-S really encouraged us to further consider how we can bring creativity and technology to change the experience of moving from one place to another.”

He added that the new Vision S “had been developed on a foundation of safety, adaptability and entertainment.

“Safety has been our number-one priority in creating a comfortable mobility experience,” he said. “That has not changed when building this SUV. A total of 40 sensors are installed inside and outside of the vehicle to monitor safety.”

Yoshida went on to state that Sony “is well-positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility”.

Vision-S 02 interior

Safety: Safe and secure mobility

Sony says the system supports safe driving by recognising and analysing the surrounding environment in real time, with sensors installed 360° around the vehicle.

These sensors include high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors and LiDAR sensors that accurately sense three-dimensional space, the company claims.

In addition, the system provides intuitive driver interaction in conjunction with the vehicle’s sound system and HMI system, so that the driver can accurately judge the status of the surrounding environment, such as the presence of emergency vehicles, even from inside the vehicle.

Sony says it aims to provide greater safety and comfort to all through its sensor and communication technologies, and is currently conducting functional verification tests in Europe toward the release of Level 2+ advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) on public roads.

Adaptability: Getting closer to people and growing together

According to Sony, Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors are used to provide monitoring functions for driver authentication and to watch over passengers. They also support intuitive gesture and voice commands that are intended to enhance usability of the car interface.

Additionally, in order to deliver an environment that suits each user’s preferences, the vehicle will include a new function that allows users to customise the display theme and the acceleration and deceleration sounds of the vehicle. Vehicle settings, key locks, and user settings can be synchronised by linking the vehicle to the cloud using mobile communication, including 5G communication, which features low-latency, high-capacity, and high-speed capabilities.

In addition, since updates are reflected in the vehicle via over the air (OTA), it is possible to provide security and evolve service functions and value-added offerings continuously.

Remote operation

Utilising Sony’s in-house technologies and knowledge of communication technology and security cultivated through the development of smartphones, Sony says it has positioned remote operation as an important technology in anticipation of the arrival of the autonomous driving era.

To achieve this, the Japanese brand has conducted driving experiments connecting Japan and Germany with 5G, and is working with its partners to achieve low-latency transmission (video and control signals) and communication control (monitoring and prediction) using the telematics system installed in Vision-S 01.

Entertainment: Enriching the mobility entertainment space

Finally, the seat speakers, which are said to create a three-dimensional sound field, and the streaming service compatible with “360 Reality Audio” promise an immersive music experience as if passengers are surrounded by the live performance of a favorite artist, Sony claims.

In addition, to provide a high-quality movie experience, Vision-S includes the fully integrated digital video service “Bravia Core for Vision-S.” The service enables shared or individual video playback on the front panoramic screen and individual rear-seat displays. Further extending the possibilities of in-vehicle entertainment, gaming capabilities have expanded to being able to play PlayStation games through a remote connection to a console at home, in addition to the ability to play streaming games through the cloud.

Moving forward

In order to further accelerate and make new proposals that further evolve the mobility experience, Sony has also announced it will establish an operating company “Sony Mobility Inc.” in the spring of 2022, through which the company intends to explore entry into the EV market.

The new company will aim to “make the best use of AI and robotics technologies, help realise a world where everyone can live in harmony with robots on a daily basis, fill people with emotion, and contribute to society”. With Vision-S, which contributes to the evolution of mobility, together with the autonomous entertainment robot aibo, and the drone Airpeak, Sony will seek to continue to create new value in a variety of fields.

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