Sony previews Airpeak drone with Alpha camera system

Sony's Airpeak drone makes its debut at CES 2021

Sony's Airpeak drone makes its debut at CES 2021

Japanese electronics giant Sony has released a video of its prototype electric vehicle being tested on public roads for the first time. The sequence starts at a test facility at the Magna Steyr factory - which builds the Toyota Supra and Jaguar I-PACE - in Graz, before leaving it behind and heading out on public roads into the Styrian mountains beyond. Sony has partnered with some key players, including automotive contract manufacturer Magna Steyr, on this project. The array of cameras at the top of the windscreen also appears to be larger than before, as are the mirror-replacing side-view cameras.

The first of such developments include the sensors, which Sony says have increased in number to 40, and now allow for 360-degree awareness among other capabilities. Compared to the original CES auto, the new one sports slightly different headlight projectors and a subtle adjustment of the shoulder line, the latter to accommodate the side lidar sensors residing in the larger blacked-out front fender panels. The company has even gone to the trouble of rendering different colours and naming them (Placid White, Blaze Red, Tidal Silver and Core Black), just like a regular carmaker. The drone showcased the technology conference came with a familiar quadcopter design.

Apart from the drone in action, Sony hasn't revealed much about the project.

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Apple and Sony may have the finances and talent to engineer a concept auto, but manufacturing a production vehicle at scale is a mammoth task, and is the biggest challenge for both companies. The battery pack is around 125kWh, although Sony has yet to confirm either battery capacity or vehicle range, but with 536hp and all-wheel drive it should be a pretty quick machine. Sony is aiming to bring the Airpeak to market this Spring.

Senior Vice President Kawanishi Izumi, who is in charge of Sony's AI robotics business said the company wants to do everything it can to contribute to the auto industry, as it undergoes a period of big change. But beyond that, we don't know a lot for sure. Doesn't sound like something a company as big as Sony would be putting out unless it was at least seriously considering building the auto, does it?

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