SELF-DRIV­ING LANDIES HEAD OFF-ROAD

AU­TON­O­MOUS TECH GETS OFF THE BEATEN TRACK, BUT IS IT TAK­ING THE FUN OUT OF FOUR-WHEEL DRIV­ING?

4 x 4 Australia - - 4cast -

LAND Rover has shown some of its devel­op­ment ve­hi­cles us­ing ad­vanced au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy de­signed for off- and on-road use.

Tony Harper, head of re­search at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We don’t want to limit fu­ture highly au­to­mated and fully au­ton­o­mous tech­nolo­gies to tar­mac. When the driver turns off the road, we want this support and as­sis­tance to con­tinue. In the fu­ture, if you en­joy the ben­e­fits of au­ton­o­mous lane keep­ing on a mo­tor­way at the start of your jour­ney, we want to en­sure you can use this all the way to your des­ti­na­tion, even if this is via a rough track or gravel road.”

The tech al­lows ve­hi­cles in a con­voy to talk to each other so that the rear­most ve­hi­cle gets track in­for­ma­tion from the one in front. It then au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs ve­hi­cle electronic sys­tems, such as Ter­rain Re­sponse, to the op­ti­mal set­ting for the track ly­ing ahead.

The ve­hi­cles use the lat­est cam­eras, ul­tra­sonic, radar and Lidar sen­sors to give a 360-de­gree view around the car, with sen­sors so ad­vanced it could de­ter­mine sur­face char­ac­ter­is­tics down to the width of a tyre – even in rain and fall­ing snow – to plan its route forward.

Ul­tra­sonic sen­sors can iden­tify sur­face con­di­tions by scan­ning up to five me­tres ahead of the car, so Ter­rain Re­sponse set­tings could be au­to­mat­i­cally changed before the car drives from tar­mac to snow or from grass to sand. This will op­ti­mise all-ter­rain per­for­mance, with­out loss of mo­men­tum or con­trol. It even works over­head with Over­head Clear­ance As­sist scan­ning for things like over­hang­ing tree branches and warn­ing the driver if they pose a haz­ard. The in­for­ma­tion can also au­to­mat­i­cally slow the ve­hi­cle down for bumps and water cross­ings, or for sand and snow.

The tech­nol­ogy is all very clever, in­ter­est­ing and we’re sure it has safety ben­e­fits, but is it tak­ing the thrill and skill out of driv­ing off-road? Is it an­other way of tak­ing the thought process away from the in­di­vid­ual and dumb­ing down the pop­u­la­tion for the sake of tech­nol­ogy? We’d be in­ter­ested to hear your thoughts on it: www. face­book.com/4x4aus.

The tech al­lows Car 01 to warn Car 02 of the up­com­ing ter­rain.

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