Sony will enter the autonomous electric vehicle market

In partnership with the automotive brand Honda, Sony released its latest endeavour, an autonomous, all-electric vehicle under a collaborative brand name

The CES conference in Las Vegas, US, has become more than just a showcase of technology. This years’ event represents the shifting automotive landscape and how digital technology is shaping e-mobility. 

The Japanese technology firm, Sony, and its partner in automotive endeavours, Honda, were also at the show to unveil their first electric vehicle (EV) under their new Afeela brand. 

Despite Sony releasing information on its own EV concept, the Vision-S, the car does not look the same. However, Honda is certainly reaping the benefits of Sony’s technical expertise as the latest concept from the pair leverages technology for safety, security, and will also steer the car towards being a “moving entertainment space”.

“We plan on exploring the possibility of how media can create a fun and exciting mobility interaction,” says Sony’s CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida. 

“In addition to movies, games, and music, we envision a new in-cabin experience using our expertise of UX and UI technologies,” Yoshida says. 

Sustainable entertainment for the EV user

There’s no doubt that electrification is being driven by technology innovation with batteries and digital systems becoming the differentiating factors between cars. The image for the future seems to be one where there is no longer a need to drive—it’s a futuristic one, but the direction that mobility is heading nonetheless. 

Sony and Honda’s prototype car presentation at CES demonstrates how the future will look with entertainment at the ready. 

“In the future, the automobile will become a next generation destination for social connectivity,” explains Kim Liberi, Chief Technology Officer at Epic Games—who spoke on Sony’s use of its Unreal Engine, a 3D computer graphics game engine that will be used in Afeela vehicles. 

“Not only for the occupants, but also their network of friends and colleagues. It will become a continuum of our digital lives,” Liberi explains. 

EVs become safer and more efficient with technology 

Imagine becoming a metric for a computer to analyse and record data against. Well, not to sound too alarming, but this is not far away. As seen with the Volvo EX90, sophisticated hardware and software are being developed and used to make EVs safer than their internal combustion engine (ICE) predecessors.

Sony and Honda will also follow this trend with the new Afeela as its cars incorporate in-cabin sensors that analyse the driver’s status, which has been designed in many cases to determine if a driver is intoxicated, tired, or lacking concentration while driving. 

The Afeela car will also be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, meaning that, as standard, the car will be able to drive itself in traffic and on highways, but will pass the responsibility back to the driver in certain situations. All of the hardware and software devised for the car is set to be built around system-on-a-chip technology from Qualcomm, including its Snapdragon digital chassis.