From Your Home To Your Driveway
Sony is a brand we tend to associate with consumer electronics, from TVs to portable audio to home stereo equipment, and the PlayStation video game system. But at the consumer electronics show in 2022, the Japanese brand unveiled the Vision-S 02, which is actually its second electric vehicle prototype in as many years. Does that mean you’ll soon be able to buy a Sony electric car?
It looks like you might be able to in a couple of years. The Vision-S, Sony’s first electric prototype, began testing on public roads in Europe at the end of 2021, and in parallel, the company started verification tests for its high-tech safety and sensing technology. As you would expect of a car produced by an electronics company, the Vision-S has an extensive suite of connected technologies that leverage 5G networks. Sony’s goal is to use these technologies to provide drivers with greater safety and comfort.
The latest version of Sony’s EV thinking, the Vision S-02 uses a variety of sensors that analyze the surrounding environment in real time, with 360-degree coverage. The sensors include high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors and LiDAR sensors that can accurately paint a three-dimensional picture of the space around the car.
Working in conjunction with the vehicle’s sound system and screens, the sensors are designed to ensure the driver has an enhanced feel of the status of the surrounding environment from inside the vehicle – including the presence of emergency vehicles, road obstacles, and more.
Sensors are used not just to monitor the environment, they are also used to monitor the driver, to enhance safety as well as ease-of-use of the Vision S-02’s various systems. Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors are used to provide monitoring functions for driver authentication and to watch over passengers. They also support gesture and voice commands that are intended to enhance the usability of the car’s various interfaces.
Remote Control Driving
Remote control for your TV; remote control for your car? iin addition to the typical functions of being able to unlock, lock, pre-heat, and pre-cool the Vision S-02, owners may eventually be able to take advantage of certain kinds of remote-control, autonomous driving.
Sony says its in-house technologies, developed over decades of remotely-operated electronics and smartphones, have it well prepared for the autonomous driving era. Indeed, the company has positioned remote operation as an important technology in anticipation of the arrival of the autonomous driving era.
So far, it has undertaken driving experiments connecting Japan and Germany with 5G, and is working with its partners to achieve low-latency transmission (of video and control signals) and communication control (monitoring and prediction) using the telematics system installed in prototypes.
Tailored For Each User
In order to deliver an environment that suits each user's preferences, Vision S-02 will includes a new function that allows users to customize the display theme across the many screens inside, as well as the acceleration and deceleration sounds of the vehicle.
As you’d expect from a company steeped in home and portable entertainment, the Sony car features an impressive suite of infotainment features. Each of the seven seats has speakers built-in, to create a three-dimensional sound field, and can stream 360-degree “reality audio” to provide an immersive music experience.
The Sony Vision S-02 also has a fully integrated digital video service, called Bravia Core for Vision-S, to enable shared or individual video playback on the giant front panoramic screen (when the vehicle is stopped) as well as individual rear-seat displays.
And, of course, gaming capabilities are built-in, with the ability to play PlayStation games through a remote connection to a console at home, and the ability to play streaming games directly through the cloud.
A Mainstream Form Factor
Unlike Sony’s first electric vehicle prototype, which was a sedan, the Vision S-02 is aimed at the heart of the North American market, and is a seven-seater SUV. Built on a dedicated EV architecture, it is remarkably sleek, low, and well-packaged for such a spacious vehicle, and the company says it’s designed to accommodate “a large variety of lifestyles within a society where values are becoming increasingly diversified.” In other words, it’s roomy, versatile, and adaptable.
What we don’t know yet are the ultimate range and charging abilities of a potential Sony SUV. We do know that the Vision S-02 weighs 5,467 lbs (about par for the segment), and has twin electric motors for all-wheel drive, a four-corner air suspension system, and a top speed of 112 mph.
A New Company
How serious is Sony about electric vehicles? In order to further accelerate and develop new proposals that will evolve the mobility experience, Sony has said it will establish a new company, "Sony Mobility Inc.,” through which it intends to explore entry into the EV market. Watch this space!