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August 21, 2019
Tokyo, Japan— Sony Corporation announced today the joint development with Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., of the SC-1 Sociable Cart, a vehicle that delivers a new mobility experience. Sony and Yamaha Motor plan to launch services using this model in Japan in fiscal 2019. The vehicle was developed solely for the purpose of providing a new mobility experience, and it will not be made available for sale.
The SC-1 is designed to transform what was a mere means of mobility into an all-new opportunity for entertainment. Sony and Yamaha Motor will deploy it to provide fun new diversions at venues such as golf courses, amusement parks, and commercial facilities.
Sony developed the vehicle's proof-of-concept prototype in 2016 and completed the SC-1 New Concept Cart prototype in 2017. Then, in 2018, Sony and Kanucha Bay Resort Co., Ltd. joined forces to use the SC-1 to provide Moonlight Cruise, a limited-time ride experience service where customers were able to enjoy video and audio entertainment powered by augmented reality (AR) projected against the backdrop of night scenes at a golf course in Okinawa.
The SC-1 Sociable Cart, announced today, was jointly developed with Yamaha Motor based on the knowhow and feedback accumulated via Moonlight Cruise and various other driving tests. The new model has increased passenger capacity (up from three to five), extended run time thanks to its replaceable batteries, a broader front and rear scope of view thanks to additional image sensors, an innovative vehicle design, a more comfortable ride thanks to optimization of the base vehicle, and other improvements.
Like its prototypes, the SC-1 features image sensors capable of vision beyond that of human capacity on all sides of the vehicle. Unlike conventional transport vehicles which are operated by humans, the SC-1 can sense the surrounding environment using images that are in-focus in all directions. Moreover, the ultra-high sensitivity characteristics of the image sensors and the high-resolution display installed inside the vehicle allow the passengers to see their surroundings at night even without any headlights. Also, in addition to normal operation by the passengers, the SC-1 can also be operated remotely by someone viewing the images via the cloud.
Since the image sensors capture the surroundings, windows are no longer required. This makes it possible to install high-definition displays in the area where windows would otherwise be and to use them to stream advertisement* and other content to people outside the vehicle. Furthermore, analyzing the images obtained via the image sensor with artificial intelligence (AI) enables the information being streamed to be interactive. The AI can determine the attributes (age, gender, etc.) of people outside the vehicle and optimize ads and other streaming info accordingly.
The SC-1 also incorporates mixed reality (MR) technology developed by Sony that can superimpose computer graphics onto the surroundings being displayed on the monitor. This turns the area that used to be taken up by windows, where passengers could only see the scenery, into an entertainment area, thereby enabling a more enjoyable mobility experience.
In addition to the image sensors, the SC-1 is also equipped with ultrasonic sensors and a two-dimensional laser image detection and ranging (LIDAR) system. This makes it possible to accumulate travel data in the cloud for deep learning analysis, which in turn supports optimized driving. This also enables the use of edge computing to process information obtained from the vehicle's sensors to provide safer travel.