The case of the vanishing bonnet
The next Land Rover has an “invisible front end”
IT could be the biggest breakthrough in driveway safety yet — even though it was originally designed to help fourwheel-drives navigate tricky bush tracks.
Land Rover has come up with a camera system that appears to make the bonnet invisible — by projecting the image of what’s below, into the windscreen directly in front of the driver.
While there is a public push to make rear-view cameras mandatory on new cars, figures show 40 per cent of driveway deaths occur when vehicles are driven forwards, because the view is obscured by the large bonnets of family-sized SUVs.
The British brand developed the technology for off-road use, to help drivers clamber over obstacles with ease.
But the system, unveiled at this week’s New York motor show, could find more regular use in driveways.
Tiny cameras fitted below the grille are paired with a display that is projected into the windscreen so that it appears as if the vehicle’s bonnet is transparent. The system is in the experimental stage, but is expected to be available on the new Land Rover Discovery, due on sale next year.
The Land Rover concept also has lasers mounted in the front fog lights that continuously scan the terrain ahead “and renders a contour map” on the screen in the dash to help drivers plot a path off the beaten track.
The same lasers can also test the depth of the water in river crossings, Land Rover says. One idea that may not see the light of day on the production car is a “remote control” setting.
Land Rover says the scanning technology — combined with the “crawl” function, where the car automatically applies the brakes to move slowly over rough terrain — is so good that the driver can get out of the vehicle and make sure it’s not about to strike any obstacles.
The company spoke a lot about technology on the concept car because it didn’t reveal much else about the new Land Rover Discovery.
As the photos show, next year’s Discovery has lost its boxy design, with looks said to be inspired by the hugely successful Range Rover Evoque.
The next Discovery is understood to share its core body structure with the aluminium Range Rover Vogue and Range Rover Sport, to give it massive savings in weight and, therefore, fuel economy.
There will be five- and seven-seat versions of the new Discovery, but the production car sadly won’t get the cool rear-hinged doors that appeared on the motor show model.