The case of the van­ish­ing bon­net

The next Land Rover has an “in­vis­i­ble front end”

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MOTORING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

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.

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