At a press conference the day before CES 2024 kicked off in full, Sony steered the Afeela electric car on stage using a PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, reports CNET. It was being controlled by Izumi Kawanishi, COO and President of Sony Honda Mobility, the car being a joint venture between the two Japanese tech giants.
Unfortunately, they were quick to clarify that this wouldn’t be something customers could do, hastily stating that it was just a tech demo.
Although the Afeela was announced back in 2022, we are getting closer to its planned launch in 2025, and Kawanishi had plenty of information to share at the conference.
What did we learn about the Afeela at CES 2024?
The electric vehicle is integrated with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5.3 for several applications. Most relevant to drivers, the games engine will be used to create the graphical displays on Afeela’s massive dashboard display. There will be highly detailed maps integrated with internet-sourced metadata overlays, as well as augmented reality views of the world.
Unreal Engine’s high-fidelity graphics are being used for another novel purpose – generating the simulated environments used to train Afeela’s multicamera driver assistance systems. The more realistic the graphics, the more precise the training of the models becomes, and UE5 is ideal for this.
Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service is being used to develop a “conversational personal agent” for the car. “Artificial intelligence (AI) plays an essential role in achieving our goal to redefining the relationship between people and mobility, enhancing emotional user experience. Microsoft is a key partner in providing conversational personal agents. We are pleased to be working with Microsoft to realize our vision.” said Kawanishi.
Sony Honday Mobility is also partnering with games studio Polyphony Digital to realise the Afeela digitally, with it being announced for inclusion in Gran Turismo 7 later this year.
In an announcement on their website, Sony Honda Mobility said of the Gran Turismo inclusion, “The purpose of this partnership is to develop vehicles that fuse the virtual and the real, mainly in the area of human senses and emotions by combining Polyphony Digital’s simulation technology with the development of actual vehicles by SHM.”
Electric vehicles (EVs) are having a moment in culture. After significant unrest over Tesla’s EVs true range, other companies have been making strides in the industry, for example, Toyota’s new battery technology. Now is the time for a Tesla replacement to capture audiences, and Sony Honda Mobility is trying to do just that.
Featured image credit: Sony Honda Mobility
The post “Sony drove its electric car Afeela on stage with a PS5 controller” by Ali Rees was published on 01/09/2024 by readwrite.com