Land Rover Doesn’t Leave Off-Roaders Out of Connected Future

Off Road Connected Convoy 12

Like so many carmakers, Jaguar Land Rover is getting ready for a future that includes more connected and autonomous features on cars, but unlike most other auto companies, JLR is working to integrate those technologies into off-road driving too.

The company recently provided a glimpse of several features that are in the early stages of development, and we got a chance to try them out. These aren’t ready for the market yet. But if your next safari is a few years away, keep an eye out for these three off-road-themed technologies:

Surface ID

What it is: Sensors scan the road to determine if the surface is tarmac, grass, sand, gravel, mud, etc.

The technology: Front-bumper-mounted ultrasonic sensors.

Details: Currently, when a Land Rover’s Terrain Response system is in Auto mode, the vehicle determines the type of terrain based wheel-speed, steering-wheel-angle, and other in-vehicle sensors. Surface ID instead looks ahead to see what type of terrain the car is about to drive onto. Using ultrasonic sensors mounted near the front license plate scan the road roughly 15 feet ahead to read the surface. Once it determines the terrain, it gives the driver a readout—which is fairly unspectacular in practice. In theory, it also could automatically optimize the car by selecting the corresponding Terrain Response system mode.

Future: This tech is in its early stages. Ultrasonic sensors would need to be integrated and productionized (development units looked like a GoPro stuck on the license plate). Also, LR is just starting to build a database of measured surfaces, which is necessary in order for the system to recognize them. Still to be determined is whether this system would aid low-speed, off-road situations only, or whether it also could be for higher-speed on-road driving (recognizing icy conditions, for example).

Surface ID 16

Terrain-Based Speed Adaption (TBSA)

What it is: A supplement to the current All Terrain Progress Control (a low-speed, off-road cruise control) that automatically varies a set speed in reaction to obstacles and/or changing terrain.

The technology: Uses current stereo cameras, plus inputs from existing vehicle sensors that measure body motions, steering-wheel angle, and wheel speed, as well as parking sensors.

Details: TBSA works only with All Terrain Progress Control engaged. Cameras scan up to 100 or so feet ahead of the vehicle; looking also at steering-wheel angle to map the intended trajectory, the system looks for objects ahead on the trail such as rocks, ruts, crests, and water. “Reading” the objects, it then calculates the best vehicle speed for driving over them, automatically slowing the vehicle if necessary, then resuming the set speed when safe to do so. In addition to looking ahead, it also can react to current conditions, such as if the truck encounters an unseen rock or rut when driving through water. The net result takes almost all of the challenge out of off-roading.

Future: Would seem to be ready now, but no market details were forthcoming.

Off-Road Connected Convoy

What it is: Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, applied specifically to off-road driving.

The technology: Uses Dedicated Short Range Communications technology.

Details: This JLR-engineered tech allows a lead connected vehicle to share information relevant to off-road driving with following connected vehicles. Information includes the location of the lead vehicle, its Terrain Response setting, its All Terrain Progress Control set speed, as well as whether the vehicle has stopped. Future functionality could include the ability of the driver in the lead vehicle to drop a pin to indicate a particular hazard or a good photo spot.

Future: This system faces perhaps fewer obstacles than on-road V2V systems, since it’s for off-road use. It might also skirt regulatory requirements for the same reason. Also, unlike larger-scale V2V systems that require cooperation among all manufacturers to be truly effective, this one could be a Land Rover–exclusive system, since off-road-driving groups often are single-marque specific.

Off Road Connected Convoy 10

Undeniably, the notion of automating the off-road driving experience runs counter to what off-road driving is all about: mastering a difficult driving challenge. But these new technologies are really only the next steps on the road we’ve already started down with hill-descent control, LR’s Terrain Response system, and All Terrain Progress Control. That said, after we drove this latest tech, we took to the trail in an utterly analog, 1979 Land Rover Series III station wagon, with manual steering, a manual transmission, and manual shifting into low-range—and that was the vehicle we really wished we could have driven longer.

from Car and Driver Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s