Currently reading: JLR reveals advanced new passenger car tech
Virtual windscreen and laser guidance just two of the new technologies which Jaguar Land Rover aims to bring to market

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed some of its future technologies, which could usher in the end for conventional instrument packs and conventional headlights.

Displayed at its research and development centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire, the company says it is working on ‘virtual windscreens’ and a new lighting and vehicle guidance system powered by lasers.

Research engineer Paul Widdowson demonstrated JLR’s advanced work in using ‘structured light’ as a way of both projecting images onto the road surface and for mapping the topography rough ground ahead of the car.

JLR is experimenting with laser projections that lay down a grid or box shape that’s the same width as the vehicle on the road surface a few metres ahead of the car. This would allow the driver to judge the car’s width with extreme accuracy, a very useful benefit on crowded city streets.

These laser projections could also be used to project animated arrows on the road surface, showing a vehicle’s intent to make a turn more clearly than easily obscured indicator units. The ‘structured lights’ could also be used for working out the depth of water the driver is about to wade through as well as mapping off-road surfaces ahead of the vehicle. 

In theory it could also be used on road surfaces to provide hyper-accurate information for an active suspension system. The accuracy of the information provided by laser projections also means that they can be used as safety sensors for parking or pedestrian avoidance.

Perhaps the most radical use for the new laser technology is a replacement for conventional headlamp units. The light beams – which are projected from tiny light units - are easy to place accurately, allowing, for example, road edges to illuminated without using a conventional high beams. 

Because the light is sent from the power units along a fibre optic cable, future laser headlamps could be much small and less bulky than today’s units, opening the way for a significant shift in car design. Reducing the bulk of headlamp units could also improve pedestrian safety. 

Widdowson revealed that his team is already talking to suppliers about prototyping the idea and getting enough power for 2500 Lumens in a package volume of around 0.5-litres.

The firm's new virtual windscreen technology enables various information to be projected on the screen, including sat-nav information, hazard warnings and most of the information that appears on conventional instrument packs. 

Unlike conventional head-up displays, which only project onto a small area of the windscreen, the JLR system uses the whole ‘screen as a head-up display. JLR engineers say that for track driving, the system could used to display correct racing lines and braking points and even show a virtual row of cones.


Latest business news

Read our review

Car review

The fourth-generation Range Rover is here to be judged as a luxury car as much as it is a 4x4

Back to top

Also being worked on for the future are hand gesture controls – which JLR demonstrated for opening and closing a sunroof – and a 3D instrument cluster, which was particular effective in sat-nav mode, showing a live 3D simulation of the immediate streetscape.

JLR says future cars will also sync with the driver’s phone, using future appointments, traffic and weather reports to configure the car automatically. This could see a car being pre-warmed in cold weather, with the heated seats and steering wheel activating automatically. Individual driver preferences for driving position and entertainment sources will also be activated automatically. 

Future cars could also take into account the driver’s mood and wellbeing, using information from a smart watch or wristband.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Moparman 10 July 2014

One last hurrah for the driver

Once the self-driving cars come on stream the technology will help the car but it won't need to be visible to the driver making it moot. Some neat gizmos that could help some in the real world but those who need it will go straight to the driverless car once they can afford to do so.
typos1 10 July 2014

"Because the light is sent

"Because the light is sent from the power units along a fibre optic cable, future laser headlamps could be much small and less bulky than today’s units, opening the way for a significant shift in car design. Reducing the bulk of headlamp units could also improve pedestrian safety."
They said that about LED lights and whats happened since their introduction ? The total opposite - headlights are bigger than ever and there are now usually loads of extra lights emblazoned on the front aswell, more often than not, large and tacky, in a few years I wouldnt be surprised if the entire front of a modern car had eveolved into one big light !
Lord Snooty 10 July 2014

Solutions looking for a problem.

Yes please. Sign me up for a grands worth of kit to show me how wide my car is. Can you also please project my Facebook and Twiitter feeds onto the road so that I can interact socially with my many like-minded 'friends' without taking my eyes off the road. Please also show me where I can get a full frontal lobotomy so I can be like the other drivers of these cars, like, you know, wow, that's so cool. Seriously Jag, there must be better uses for upcoming tech. If not, then please just leave it out.