Sony has a new self-driving vehicle it calls its New Concept Cart SC-1 that aims to show how getting around can be transformed from a daily task into an entertainment experience. As the name implies, the vehicle is really more of a shuttle-shaped cart than a full-sized automobile and it can currently only hold 3 occupants. Although it is designed to be driven autonomously – with a top speed of around 12 mph – it can be driven by an actual human being as well. Furthermore, the onboard systems are said to be capable of assisting with human operation even without headlights at night. It accomplishes that by replacing windows with displays and through the inclusion of an array of sensors that make it possible for the SC-1 to drive on its own. The system includes a total of five 35mm R Exmor CMOS sensors positioned around the vehicle, in addition to ultrasonics and two-dimensional LIDAR. That combination provides the SC-1 with 360-degrees of computer vision and accurate distance measurements.
Although the Concept Cart can be driven by an actual human being, the fact that it can also operate autonomously frees up the passengers for other things. To that end, the interior has been outfitted with interactive media experiences provided via a 49-inch 4K LCD display. Presumably, that same display is what can help a human operator maintain safe driving standards even if the headlamps are disabled. The exterior of the SC-1 hasn't been left out either and actually features a total of four 55-inch 4K LCD monitors. Assisting that, the onboard A.I. can also distinguish personal traits of those inside and outside of the vehicle – such as whether they are male or female and a general age range – so it can provide more personalized media. Unfortunately, that is said to include personalized advertisements but those ads will all least be more individually catered than traditional advertising. Data is sent out to the cloud and processed by deep learning algorithms via 5G-ready connectivity, which is provided by Docomo. Taking things just a step further, Sony says the SC-1 is electrically powered – using renewables rather than standard fuel – and that the A.I. also assists in optimizing travel efficiency.
Bearing in mind that the vehicle is still very much just a concept, Sony has been taking the Concept Cart SC-1 out for demonstrations since September at the Okinawa Science and Technology Graduate University College. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be hitting the roadways anytime soon but it could go a long way toward inspiring automakers and innovators by showing what can be accomplished in the realm of self-driving vehicles.