CES: Sony unveils electric car company and new SUV prototype
The electronics firm’s chief executive Kenichrio Yoshida announced plans to open the subsidiary, Sony Mobility, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at a press conference yesterday evening, adding that the new company would aim to make the best use of AI and robotics technologies.
Sony also announced and exhibited a 7-seater SUV prototype: Vision-S 02 – utilizing its large interior to promote the entertainment and communications platform that the company believes will key to future car experiences.
These include integrated video services on front panoramic and rear seat displays as well as the ability for passengers to play PlayStation games through a remote connection to a console at home or via the cloud.
The Japanese firm added that it would position remote operation as a key factor in its EV designs “in anticipation of the arrival of the autonomous driving era” – by deploying in-house technologies cultivated through the development of its smartphones as well as the 5G trials it has conducted in Europe and Asia.
Sony added that it was also working with its partners to achieve low-latency transmission (video and control signals) and communication control (monitoring and prediction) using a telematics system first installed in an earlier prototype.
Sony will also deploy its sensor technologies in the new EV design – including high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors and LiDAR sensors, which its says will be used to ‘support safe driving by recognizing and analyzing the surrounding environment in real time’.
Sony first announced its exploration into the EV market, to little fanfare, two years ago at CES – and started public road testing its first prototype – Vision-S 01- in Europe in December 2020. Last April it began 5G driving tests in Germany and Japan.
While the earlier protype was viewed as a way for Sony to promote the batteries and sensors the group sells to other car manufacturers, the launch of Sony Mobility now represents a bigger push into the EV market.
It’s not clear whether Sony intends to manufacture the cars itself – like market leader Tesla – should its prototypes prove a success – or whether it will outsource the model to a third party manufacturer.
Other technology companies eyeing up the EV market include Taiwanese computer manufacturer Foxconn while Google has been working on self-driving cars for over a decade.
And while negotiations broke down last year between Hyundai and Apple over their joint development of autonomous vehicles, Bloomberg reported last November that Apple is now focussed on Project Titan – the creation of a fully self-driving car that requires no human intervention.
Led by former Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch, Apple is aiming for a fully self-driving car within four years.
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