JLR Takes Self-Driving Off-Road

Jaguar Land Rover has created a suite of autonomous off-road driving features to help cars drive themselves on any terrain and in any conditions.

The system combines cameras, ultrasonic, radar and lidar sensors to create a 360-degree view of the world around it, then plot a 3D path over the terrain ahead.

While scanning up to five meters ahead, the car analyses all potential surfaces to be driven on and spots hazards above and to the side of the path ahead (adjustable by the driver if a roof box or bike rack is fitted, making the car taller).

A new feature called Terrain-Based Speed Adaption uses the same cameras and sensors to predict the impact caused by upcoming potholes and changes in terrain. The car then adjusts its speed accordingly to make the ride more comfortable. The Jaguar F-Pace uses a similar, albeit less advanced, system which acts like cruise control for off-roading, where the car maintains a constant speed no matter how steep a hill it is driving up or down.

Finally, Jaguar Land Rover has created Off-Road Connected Convoy, a system which links two vehicles together over a local wireless network, then transmits messages from the lead car to any following it. If the wheels slip or sensors encounter a change in terrain, following cars are told to prepare for it, or even avoid if the system thinks there is an alternative route around an obstacle.

The vehicle-to-vehicle system can “seamlessly link a convoy of vehicles in any off-road environment. If a vehicle has stopped, other vehicles in the convoy will be alerted – if the wheels drop into a hole, or perhaps slip on a difficult boulder, this information is transmitted to all of the other vehicles.

Jaguar Land Rover said it will create a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles over the next four years to test autonomous and connected technology, with the first models to hit the streets later this year.

Jaguar Land Rover, maker of Range Rover 4x4s and sportier luxury saloons, will drive the initial models on a new 41-mile (66 km) test route on motorways and urban roads near its headquarters and plants in central England.

Britain announced plans in March to test cars on motorways and launched a consultation on Monday to change insurance and motoring rules as it pursues plans to allow the public to use driverless cars on the streets by 2020.

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