Friday 21 February 2020

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Sony builds its own car

Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020 4:36pm

Sony surprised everyone by showing up at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with a car.

While Sony has for years made stereos for Ford, and of course is synonymous with car-based gaming thanks to the Gran Turismo PlayStation game, this four-door, called Vision-S, is the first car that Sony has ever built.

In bringing it to the CES, Sony has managed what rival Apple never could — to build and show off an actual finished, physical car. However, it seems rather unlikely that Sony is planning to abandon its PlayStations and mobile phones in favour of getting into the car-making game.

Instead, the Vision-S is designed to show off Sony’s prowess when it comes to making exterior sensors for autonomous and assisted driving, and interior infotainment systems. Basically, it’s a rolling shop window, allowing Sony to advertise its expertise to potential partners in the car industry.

That tech includes high-resolution CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) camera systems, that Sony says can achieve faster and more accurate object imaging and recognition, and solid-state LIDAR (a combination of laser and radar) sensors that can view the world around the car in 3D.

The feed from those sensors, and others, is combined in what Sony calls ‘sensor fusion’ which allows the Vision-S to have a greater understanding of what it can ‘see’ around itself. Potential hazards can then be, as part of Sony’s ‘Safety Cocoon’ either flagged up to the driver, or avoided by the car’s own control systems.

Inside, the dashboard of the Vision-S is one massive screen, with extra screens at the outer edges taking a feed from the rear-facing door cameras. The infotainment system actually gets its own sensor suite, which detects who’s in the car at adjusts and optimises items such as the gesture control to best suit the various occupants.

This being a Sony product, the Vision-S unsurprisingly has a serious sound system — a “360 Reality Audio” which uses speakers built into each individual seat to create “a deep and immersive audio experience”. The entire infotainment system is connected to the internet, and can be constantly updated over the air.

Revealing the Vision-S, Sony’s President and Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said: “Creativity is a powerful driving force that moves Sony forward. When it is combined with our technology, it is unstoppable.

“Mobile has been the mega-trend of the last decade. I believe the next mega-trend will be mobility.” Yoshida said that the Vision-s’ sensing and imaging technologies would “contribute to safer and more reliable autonomous driving, and an array of highly-advanced electronics technologies that together deliver an unprecedented in-car entertainment experience”.

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