A year after Sony Honda Mobility (SHM) announced its debut EV concept, the Afeela, the company is back. CES 2024 In Las Vegas to offer more details, more cooperation and driving simulator.
The the name of the concept car it hasn’t changed since we last saw it. What’s new is the car’s ability to be Controlled with a PlayStation controller. I couldn’t do it – it was a stunt run by one of the company’s employees – but there was the DualSense controller involved in my demo.
So let’s pick up where SHM left off. At last year’s CES 2023, Sony has unveiled the Afeela Concept EV, 45 cameras and spread across the car’s dash, with car information, navigation, music players and more. filled with a wide “media bar” showing the mix. The steering wheel has been redesigned as a yoke so that the driver can better see that luxurious dash. The company also teased some mixed reality tricks in collaboration with Epic Games.
The Afeela EV itself looks largely the same as last year’s prototype, though it now has a substantial LiDAR bar above the windshield that looks like a giant smartphone notch. The company says the car will be available for pre-order in 2025 before going on sale in the US next year.
At CES 2024, I got to go inside the Afeela, and an SHM representative walked me through everything that’s been crammed into the concept car so far.
Combining the expertise of both Sony and Honda, Afeela will create its own noise-canceling bubble, apparently using Sony’s technology to make the cabin entertainment-friendly. Spatial Audio technology. According to SHM’s submissions, there are about 30 speakers, although this is more likely to change as the concept develops further. More than 42 sensors adorn the Afeela’s initial specifications, a spokesperson added.
In one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had at CES, I got to play Horizon Forbidden West On Afeela’s wide panel display. No, there isn’t a PS5 baked into this EV concept – why not? — but a demonstration involving PlayStation’s long-running Remote Play feature. Of course, the Bluetooth connection with the controller was temperamental (CES is just a collision of hundreds of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals), but conceptually you understand that it is possible. Two screens for rear passengers can also play games, movies, etc. could demonstrate; but they were just fake screens on this demo car.
SHM also announced during Sony’s CES show that it has teamed up with Microsoft to create a Mobility Personal Agent – an in-car conversational virtual assistant for both drivers and passengers – using Azure OpenAI technology.
It is also working with Polyphony Digital, the company behind Gran Turismo, to develop vehicles that “essentially bridge the virtual and the real in the realm of human senses.” For now, this collaboration has resulted in an Afeela that you can drive in Gran Turismo.
But it’s the new dash combined with the AR graphics overlays and LiDAR notch that has me most interested. It will capture data and images from EV sensors and create 3D models of the outside world. This can be used for trivial things like Godzilla-style monsters and augmented reality games in your camera roll. Or, more simply, rich, detailed overlays for navigating to nearby businesses and destinations.
While we weren’t driving the Afeela EV around Las Vegas, SHM tried to offer the next best thing: a car simulator developed in collaboration with Epic Games (and apparently Unreal Engine 5). Matrix demo). In the cockpit of the Aveela (which was black in contrast to the light gray saloon car I sat in earlier), the digital wing mirrors that controlled the virtual world displayed the same highly realistic 3D world. The dash screen then offered an AR overlay showing vehicles, objects and pedestrians, highlighting nearby hazards in red.
SHM is still very focused on developing its autonomous driving technology and advanced driver assistance systems, the latter of which are non-autonomous assistive features similar to Tesla’s Autopilot. By powering the advanced driving features of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride SoC concept car, Afeela can achieve limited Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities. At this point (and we’re not there yet), a car can handle most aspects of driving without any human intervention. The spokesperson added that it will be able to drive the Level 2 Plus autonomously in urban conditions. SHM will also use what it calls a Vision Transformer, which will work to monitor traffic through sensors, detect objects like traffic cones, and possibly detect features of the environment “in a wider perspective,” which could translate into predicting future traffic jams. familiarize yourself with them or alternative driving routes.
The car will more casually use all these sensors to detect the approach of drivers and open the door for them. The same sensors, including LiDAR and cameras, will guide Afeela as it parks itself.
Many of us still wonder if SHM’s EV will ever exist as a consumer vehicle. It’s still committed to getting its car on the road by 2026, and while CES may be the perfect audience for the hype, will car buyers be on the same page?
We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas, January 6-12. Stay up to date with the latest news from the show here.