Sony has revealed more details about its vehicle prototype, the Vision-S sedan, at CES 2021, having first announced the project at last year's event.
In a series of new videos, the Vision-S prototype can be seen driving on both a private track and on public roads in Austria, suggesting development is well underway on the Japanese tech giant's first foray into the automotive industry. Sony confirmed that public road testing of the vehicle commenced in December 2020.
A longer video released by the company sheds more light on some of the technology inside the car and under the hood, as well as the design and development process of the prototype.
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Unsurprisingly for a brand with enormous pedigree in home technologies, the focus of the Vision-S will be user experience.
Features including voice assistance, gesture control, video game entertainment – the clip shows a developer playing LittleBigPlanet – 5G connectivity and 360-degree sensor awareness have all been added or are in development for the vehicle, as well as the ability to wirelessly update the car's software.
Perhaps the most notable feature is the driver monitoring system, which uses a camera to identify and recognize the condition of the occupant. If, for example, the camera detects a sleeping passenger in the back seat, Sony says the car will automatically control the climate around that seat to increase the level of comfort for the sleeper.
Sony claims the system will evolve to learn the driver's preferred temperature, music and driving routes, harnessing actual driving data to ensure the interior space is as comfortable as possible.
The video also reveals the dashboard-length display screen, which sees five rectangular tiles – labelled camera, settings, navigation, music and video – sit adjacent to a larger, home-screen-like tile.
When it comes to the drivetrain, Sony has previously said that the Vision-S would feature two motors, delivering over 560 hp capable of pushing the car to 60 mph in under 5 seconds.
Notably, there was no mention of further details on the power front in any of the latest promotional videos, with the company clearly focused on the interior and exterior aesthetics of the vehicle.
The video did, however, feature several talking heads from Sony's various partner companies working on the project.
The combined might of Bosch, Continental, Hungarian automated driving startup AIMotive, software company Elektrobit Automotive, French automotive supplier Valeo, telecommunications giant Vodafone and German car parts maker ZF Group suggests Sony's Vision-S is a project in the midst of genuinely swift development, and not simply a token nod to an industry the company has previously had little interest in.
Sony senior Vice president Izumi Kawanishi ends the clip by saying: "Getting closer to people is our corporate direction, I think that mobility serves as a tool to achieve it."
The company is clearly committed to delivering a competitive road vehicle to compete with the likes of Tesla in the near future – and if there's a chance you can play PlayStation inside it, the Japanese giant will already have one over on Elon Musk.
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