Disappointing people hoping for more whiz-bang, Toyota recently announced a rather, shall we say, ‘functional’ people mover for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. A very much higher-tech version is now being offered by Sony and Yamaha, who threw their lot together to build what’s called the “SC-1 Sociable Cart.”
The cart’s specs sound like an amalgam of the latest venture capital red herrings. “Developed solely for the purpose of providing a new mobility experience,” and “delivering new low-speed mobility experience value,” the 5-seater cart comes with augmented, or rather “mixed reality,” it is lithium-ion polymer electric, autonomous, it has regen-brakes, and is studded with an array of sensors (camera, ultrasonic, and LIDAR) that would put a Tesla Model 3 to a painful shame.
Most of all, the cart sets a new and hard-to reach benchmarks in the display department. At the inside, it has a huge 49 inch 4K LCD monitor. At the outside, the SC-1 comes with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR even hugerer 55 inch 4K monitors.
As far as the “low-speed mobility” goes, they aren’t kidding. The vehicle can reach a top speed of 19 km/h, or roughly 12 miles per hour, and it can be lapped by a Japanese housewife on her mamachari, if she’s pedaling hard.
Sony and Yamaha sell the vehicle as “an entertainment space unmatched by any traditional vehicle, aiming to provide a more enjoyable low-speed mobility value to occupants and people nearby.” The passengers will be offered age- and gender-appropriate “route guidance, store information, entertainment, news streaming, advertisements, etc.” What people nearby can watch on those huge 55-inchers is still under wraps, most likely it will be advertising to monetize the cart.
Speaking of monetizing, Sony and Yamaha selflessly developed the SC-1 “solely for the purpose of providing a new mobility experience,” and the cart “will not be made available for sale.” However, we are told to expect in-the-flesh versions roaming Japan’s streets “in fiscal 2019” as a service offered by the high-tech corporate couple.
Fiscal 2019 ends on March 31, 2020, and if the timeline holds up, the whiz-bang cart will be available months before Toyota’s low-tech cart.