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Consumer electronics giant Sony is developing a new all-electric SUV.

The company’s “VISION-S” initiative first revealed an electric saloon at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. However, this year, the brand has returned with another concept, this time an SUV.

The VISION-S 02 uses the same drivetrain and cloud platform as the earlier VISION-S 01 but brings seven seats and a higher roofline to “promote the accommodation of a large variety of lifestyles within a society where values are becoming increasingly diversified,” apparently.

Sony has also established a new sub-brand, Sony Mobility Inc, to start “exploring a commercial launch” of electric vehicles according to Sony Chairman and President Kenichiro Yoshida.

“With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our contents mastery,” says Yoshida, “we believe Sony is well-positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility.”

The new company will aim to make the best use of AI and robotics technologies, according to a press release, and “help realize a world where everyone can live in harmony with robots on a daily basis, fill people with emotion, and contribute to society.”

The new VISION-S vehicles will rely heavily on Sony’s imaging and sensor know-how with “high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors and LiDAR.” This system, it’s hoped will help drivers to “accurately judge the status of the surrounding environment, such as the presence of emergency vehicles, even from inside the vehicle.” Looking out the windows, of course, is too hard for the modern driver.

Time-of-flight sensors, which are extensively used on high-end mobile phones, are set to provide “monitoring functions for driver authentication and to watch over passengers.”

The sensors can also be used to enhance the usability of the car interface, allowing users to customise the display theme as well as the acceleration and deceleration sounds of the vehicle.

“Vehicle settings, key locks, and user settings can be synchronized by linking the vehicle to the cloud using mobile communication, including 5G communication, which features low-latency, high-capacity, and high-speed capabilities,” reads a Sony press release. 

“In addition, since updates are reflected in the vehicle via over the air (OTA), it is possible to provide security and evolve service functions and value-added offerings continuously.”

However, despite offering reassurances about the technology to be used in Sony’s new cars, there is no news about when they will come to market. Sony Mobility Inc will be “established in Spring 2022,” according to a press release but that doesn’t guarantee we will see Sony cars in drivers’ hands this year – especially given the ongoing chip shortage and the need to establish new manufacturing centres.

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