Sony's Sociable Cart SC-1, jointly developed with Yamaha Motor, will begin service on November 1, 2019.
The autonomous vehicle-cum-party bus is designed for theme parks and golf courses.The first phase of this service launch will take place in Okinawa Prefecture's Kanucha Bay Resort in Nago City, and the Southeast Botanical Garden in Okinawa City.
Each cart can carry five people in comfort, and relies on sensors to make its journey, thus eliminating the need for windows. This is how passengers can enjoy the immersive mixed reality experience inside the cart, leaving plenty of display space for advertising on the external screens.
Sociable Cart SC-1 features image sensors capable of vision beyond that of human capacity on all sides of the vehicle, allowing it to sense the surrounding environment using images that are in-focus in all directions. Moreover, the 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. 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.
The initial service, Moonlight Cruise, is a night-time showcase where passengers ride on SC-1 after dark. Rather than being controlled by the passengers, SC-1's ultra-high sensitivity image sensors and high-resolution display start by showing the night-time scenery and overlaying entertainment content generated by the MR technology, while passengers are free to sit back and enjoy the experience. This service contains a plethora of surprises sure to delight the passengers' senses, providing a "supernatural" experience underneath the starry skies. Additionally, the service will feature two types of content in total.
Moving forward, Sony will continue working alongside Yamaha Motor to bring SC-1 to golf courses, botanical gardens, amusement parks, shopping centers, and more.