First unveiled at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Sony Vision-S electric prototype was revealed as a test bed for its imaging and sensing technologies, built on a modular platform that is engineered by Magna Steyr. After its showing in Las Vegas, the Vision-S returned to Japan where it continued development work and to start testing on public roads.
Now, despite previously stating that it has no plans to put the Vision-S into production for consumers, the dual-motor EV has been sighted undergoing trials at a test facility in Europe, with bodywork looking close to that of the show car, which in turn looked very much like a finished product.
The development vehicle here appears to be just about identical to the show car revealed last year, right down to the character lines across its exterior, albeit with the obligatory test car camouflage foil applied. There are slight changes to some areas of the cars rear end, namely the charging port that now appears to be larger and more organically shaped, while the rear reflector/foglamp units have moved inboard.
The Vision-S premiered with a suite of 33 sensors for Level 2 assisted driving capability, comprised of 12 cameras, 17 ultrasonic and radar sensors, and three solid-state lidar sensors; its sensor count has grown to 40 with its revision for 2021, adding a new rear lidar sensor and an interior camera to monitor the driver’s lips and improve speech recognition as a result.
At its debut, the Vision-S was specified with a dual-motor setup with a 200 kW motor on each axle, for a total of 400 kW (536 hp) in total. This enables a 0-100 km/h run in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h, according to Sony. Suspension is by air springs on double wishbones front and rear, and rolling stock is a set of 21-inch alloys wrapped in 245/40 and 275/35 tyres front and rear, respectively.
The onboard hardware setup will accommodate software upgrades that will enable the car to have self-driving capabilities at Level 4 and higher in the future, said Sony at the car’s debut. Earlier this month, SAW International published a revised set of definitions for the levels of self-driving systems; see the original list and description of Levels 0 to 5, here.
In January, a Sony spokesperson was quoted by Car and Driver as saying that it plans to continue testing the Vision-S and continue sharing its progress, even if it has initially said that does not plan to sell the car in its current form to end users.
The electronics firm’s use of a purpose-built platform and not using another automaker’s existing hardware and software means it is less limited in what it could achieve, Sony said at the time. It sounds like technology developed on this car is likely to be sold to other automakers in the future, but what do you think – could we still see a productionised Vision-S, albeit with a different name?
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