Monday, 13 january 2020 | Redacción CEU
Sony surprised everyone with its bet on this occasion of the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. At first, one could expect that what impressed everyone in an event like this would be an avant-garde idea. Without wishing to downplay the company's work, the truth is that what attracted the most attention about it was something else: the category in which the brand seems to be willing to compete. Unexpectedly, Sony presented the prototype of an electric car. Why has the firm taken this turn now? What exactly does this Japanese manufacturer's proposal consist of? How does the company expect to differentiate itself from other competitors in the automotive industry?
Once again, the city of Las Vegas became the capital of technology, by hosting the most popular consumer electronics show all around the world. Last year in this exhibition, we saw roll-up TVs, walking cars and foldable phones, and in this year’s edition we could see frameless screens, electric bikes riding on water and "artificial humans". Every year, CES’s exhibiting companies amaze us with the development of all kinds of innovative devices. However, some of them may also surprise us for other reasons. This is the case of Sony, whose decision has been to show a prototype of an autonomous car.
All visitors at the CES expected Sony to show or offer more details on its latest PlayStation model and its new TV catalog. In relation to the first point, the company showed its logo for the first time and confirmed that it will put this console on the market at the end of the year. Apart from that, we know few new details. Regarding the second point, the Japanese firm has not disappointed, and has shown a new collection of televisions based on OLED and 8K technology. Nonetheless, what has attracted the most attention in this international event is that the Japanese manufacturer has decided to explore a new field. In fact, this may be the first tech company of conventional use that get into the automotive world.
With its Vision-S electric car, Sony tries to offer a technological approach towards the development of autonomous driving. The company has expressed that if, in the past decade, the big trend was cell phones, in the coming years, it will be mobility. <<This prototype embodies our contribution to the future of mobility and contains a variety of Sony’s technologies>>, said Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO of the Sony Corporation, in the official presentation of this vehicle.
At least for the moment, the company does not have the necessary infrastructure to manufacture cars. That is the reason why its work has been supported by other brands such as Bosch, Continental, Magna, GNX, Here Maps, Qualcomm and Nvidia. Nonetheless, although this is the first time that it has developed its own car, its technology has been previously used in the vehicles of large manufacturers. Indeed, many people see in this movement an attempt to demonstrate what Sony can do regarding the integration of technology for autonomous driving, rather than a full immersion of this company in the car industry.
On its website, Sony explains that in the next self-driving era, the basic foundation of comfort will be supported by safety and security. Therefore, the ability to take precautions far more thoroughly, more carefully and faster than humans will be key. Precisely, Sony wants to achieve this thanks to its Safety Cocoon concept, which is based on an improved safety zone that is created around the vehicle, and it monitors and detects everything that surrounds the car (360 degrees). Specifically, Sony Vision-S has more than thirty sensors, including CMOS, ToF and LIDAR, which makes it possible to detect not only what happens outside, but also inside the car.
Another aspect that defines this car is its commitment to entertainment on board. Sony wants cars to become a mobile space for leisure and enjoyment. To do this, this vehicle integrates a sound system called 360 Reality Audio that provides an experience that Yoshida defines as deep and immersive. The firm achieves this thanks to speakers which are built into each passenger seat.
Sony Vision-S also includes an intuitive and large panoramic display that both drivers and co-drivers can use for various purposes such as obtaining information, browsing, adjusting driving settings or accessing multimedia content. At the rear, just behind the headrests of the front seats, the vehicle also boasts two screens that the rest of the passengers can use.
Sony has not revealed what plans it has for this car, so we do not know whether the company will only try to show its ability to provide technology to the cars of the future or want to embark itself on the adventure of manufacturing a vehicle that will eventually reach consumers, since Sony’s idea seems viable. Vision-S is a 100% electric car which is boosted with two 200 kWh electric motors with which it can reach 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and a maximum speed of 240 km/h.
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