Sony as Automaker

By Talicia Marie Stewart

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — At a recent trade show, Sony unveiled a prototype car called the Vision-S, surprising many observers who didn’t realize that firm is serious about its ambitions as an automaker.

Currently, the Vision-S sits in a state somewhere between concept and prototype. Like a concept, it was built to showcase Sony’s ideas, but like a prototype, it actually works. The car was driven onto the stage and was shown to possess at least the basics of a working car.

It is only Level 2 autonomous, meaning it can “provide steering and brake/acceleration support, as well as lane centering and adaptive cruise control.” But Sony says they intend to try for Level 4 in the coming years, fully autonomous driving.

The car itself has 33 different types of sensors, including CMOS sensors, camera sensors, and lidar sensors. These sensors create what Sony calls an oval system that protects both inside and outside. The CMOS sensors are both highly sensitive and have a high dynamic range, and they are paired with the solid-state lidar that can grasp the 3D environment around it. This helps with more accurate object recognition even in fog, backlight, and in night-time driving.

Although the specifics weren’t provided, the cockpit inside the car showed 445 km remaining with 82 per cent battery left. This electric car has two 200 kilowatt engines, one on the front axle and one on the back. It can go from 0 to 100 kph in about 4.5 seconds, and has a top speed is 240 kph.

The interior features are expansive as well. The Vision-S has a set of rectangular displays on the dashboard from driver to passenger seat. The middle and passenger seat screens are touchscreens. With the center screen, you can control the settings on a friendly user interface that also allows you to play Sony-branded movies, music, and games.

There are also two screens on the back of the driver and passenger seats to allow those in the backseat to enjoy the entertainment as well. The high-quality audio-visual features are nothing less than what you’d expect from a Sony product. The car is also equipped with a 360-degree audio system that was originally developed for the home audio market.

The company says the Vision-S was built to showcase the automotive technologies that it’s developed over the last few years. It won’t be something you see on the road, at least not in the foreseeable future. But it’s a good bet that even if Sony hesitates to make the full jump to become an automaker, that at least some of the technology found in the Vision-S will make it to the consumer market through partnerships with other automakers.

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