One of the systems in development is a remote-control application that allows drivers to control their car from outside the vehicle, using a smartphone. Working at speeds of up to 4mph and with a range of 10 metres, the system is being pitched as a way for users to traverse tricky off-road terrain - or tight urban spaces - without being inside the vehicle.
A pilot Range Rover Sport vehicle has been successfully tested using the application, which only works if the car’s smart key can be detected. JLR says future versions of the technology could include a function to allow drivers to issue spoken commands and have the vehicle follow them autonomously.
Also unveiled today is a prototype Range Rover Sport that is capable of performing a 180deg turn autonomously. Already tested in situations including dead-end roads and congested car parks, the car was able to perform the manoeuvre successfully without interference from the driver.
The company says it is working on a system to scan the environment around the car and alert the driver if it is safe to attempt a 180deg turn. A prompt from the driver then lets the vehicle take control and execute the turn.
Jaguar Land Rover director of research and technology Wolfgang Epple said: “Getting a car out of a tricky parking manoeuvre can be a stressful experience for any driver. A remote control car, or a vehicle that can autonomously turn in the road, demonstrates how we could use these new technologies to reduce the tedious parts of driving and improve road safety.
“Research into technologies like these won’t only help us deliver an autonomous car. They will also help to make driving safer and more enjoyable. The same sensors and systems that will help an autonomous car make the right decisions will assist the driver and enhance the experience to help prevent accidents. Autonomous car technologies will not take away the fun of driving.”
While JLR, like many other manufacturers, is working to produce a fully autonomous vehicle, the firm says it aims to offer a choice between ‘engaged’ or autonomous driving. The company says its autonomous vehicles must be capable in all environments both on and off road, so enhancing the car’s sensing capability will be key.
Sensor systems that will need to be included on the autonomous, go-anywhere car - dubbed the ‘Solo Car’ by JLR engineers - include radar, Lidar, cameras, ultrasonics and structured light technology.