Jaguar Land Rover reveals it is developing autonomous off-road cars

British company Jaguar Land Rover has revealed that it is working on a new kind of autonomous driving technology which will enable its next generation of cars to self-drive over any terrain.

Aiming to make the cars drive over any surface in any environment, the Autonomous All-Terrain Driving research project is incorporating new sensor technology with artificial intelligence.

Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover’s head of research Tony Harper 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.”

The next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, it has been confirmed, will use Surface Identification and 3D Path Sensing, an advanced set-up of cameras, radar, LIDAR and ultrasonic technology. Together these tools will enable the car to have a complete view of the environment around it, determine the characteristics of the surface ahead and plan a route based upon those findings.

This new system will be able to scan features up to five metres in front of it, and will then enable the Terrain Response system which will automatically change the car’s set-up to drive over a number of surfaces including grass, sand, snow and gravel. Terrain-Based Speed Adaptation is another element of the set-up which is still a work in progress, but once developed will enable cars to detect things such as potholes and puddles, before adjusting the car’s speed to protect the passengers inside.

As well as detecting what’s on the ground, a new technology called Overhead Clearance Assist has also been developed, which can sense any overhanging branches and barriers. It will also be able to adapt if anything is being carried on the roof. The final feature to be introduced by Jaguar Land Rover is a car-to-car communication service called the Off-Road Connected Convoy. Using wireless communication, the technology will communicate to a following convoy of cars if the leading car has faced a certain obstacle or change in the road, such as a pothole, or if the car has stopped, as well as details about suspension height, location, wheel slip and wheel articulation.

It is still not yet known when the new technology will be released, though we know that the next generation models of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are still a few years away. However, it is likely that once introduced, it will begin as a premium feature, before being included as standard much further into the future. If you’ve been wondering ‘how much is my car worth?’, prepare for the value to change once self-driving technology becomes the norm.


Image: Jaguar Land Rover