Sony Honda Automotive Brand to Use Microsoft AI, CES 2024

Afeela also revealed latest developments to its EV program, its automated driving architecture and advanced driver assistance system capabilities

Graham Hope

January 9, 2024

3 Min Read
Sony Honda automotive brand Afeela announced at CES that it's going to use Microsoft AI in its vehicles

Afeela, the fledgling automotive brand created by the Sony Honda Mobility Company, announced several partnerships and updates at this year’s CES.

Having claimed headlines at a number of recent CES shows, bosses were clearly aware of the potential to generate more publicity – and so a slightly revised version of Afeela’s electric sedan was driven onto the stage by a Sony PlayStation controller.

But this was a mere stunt and the real depth of its presentation was confirmation of the latest developments to the EV program.

Arguably the most significant is a deal with Microsoft to use its Azure OpenAI service to power a conversational agent in the car.

Like a number of automakers, Afeela believes it can redefine the relationship between people and mobility, making it more of an “emotional experience” and it has earmarked AI-powered chat as a way of doing so.

“Generative AI is a new canvas that is amplifying human creativity and creating opportunities for creators and designers to completely transform the in-vehicle experience,” said Jessica Hawk of Microsoft.

“We are proud of our collaboration with Sony Honda Mobility and excited to see their innovative use of Azure AI technologies.”

There was also an update on the architecture being created for the car’s automated driving (AD) and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) capabilities.

Related:Honda, Sony Reveal Self-Driving Afeela EV at CES 2023

A combination of AI and sensors will be used to deliver these with Vision Transformer image recognition being used for perception and machine learning for path planning. A redundant system will also be developed to ensure safety.

And there were further details revealed about Afeela’s partnership with Epic Games, first announced last year. 

Bosses confirmed Epic Games’ 5.3 gaming engine, which boasts extremely lifelike graphics, is being deployed to help create rendered environments for the simulator being used to fine-tune the car’s ADAS tech.

Finally, there was a mention of a collaboration with Polyphony Digital, the developer of the Gran Turismo racing simulator, that aims to fuse the “virtual and the real.”

Specifically what that means wasn’t explained, but a video released to accompany the announcement showed the sedan traveling in several different environments, amid proclaiming “Afeela: Coming to Gran Turismo” which suggests our first taste of the car’s dynamic prowess is likely to be on a screen.
What Afeela’s presentation didn’t reference, though, was if the car’s production timeline remains on course. Previously it has said pre-orders are planned to begin in the first half of 2025, with sales underway by the end of that year. First deliveries in North America are due in spring 2026.

Related:Volkswagen Integrating ChatGPT Into Vehicles, CES 2024

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CES 2024

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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