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Jaguar Land Rover is making off-road self-driving a reality

Self-driving cars are not some futuristic auto technology; in fact there are already cars with self-driving features on the road such as BMW, Mercedes and Tesla. But Jaguar Land Rover is taking the self-driving cars off-road. By Staff Writer

The British carmaker has developed a range of innovative research technologies that allow a future autonomous car to drive itself over any surface or terrain.

Connected Convoy
Connected Convoy (Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover)

The carmaker said in a statement that it aims to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real life, on and off-road driving environments and weather conditions, ensuring future highly automated and fully autonomous technologies are not limited to the tarmac.

“Our all-terrain autonomy research isn’t about the car driving itself on a motorway or in extreme off-road situations. It’s about helping both the driven and autonomous car make their way safely through any terrain or driving situation. 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,” Thomas Harper, head of research for Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement.

“So whether it’s a road under construction with cones and a contraflow, a snow-covered road in the mountains or a muddy forest track, this advanced capability would be available to both the driver AND the autonomous car, with the driver able to let the car take control if they were unsure how best to tackle an obstacle or hazard ahead. We are already world-leaders in all-terrain technologies: these research projects will extend that lead still further.”

The key enabler for autonomous driving on any terrain is to give the car the ability to sense and predict the 3D path it is going to drive through. Jaguar Land Rover’s researchers are developing next-generation sensing technologies that will be the eyes of the future autonomous car.

The sensors are always active and can create a complete picture of the environment around the vehicle, this advanced sensing will ultimately provide the high levels of artificial intelligence required for the car to think for itself and plan the route it should take, on any surface.

Jaguar Land Rover said behind these technologies is surface identification and 3D path sensing research which combines camera, ultrasonic, radar and LIDAR sensors to give the car a 360-degree view of the world around it, with sensors so advanced that the car could determine surface characteristics, down to the width of a tyre, even in rain and falling snow, to plan its route. To complete the 3D path is overhead clearance assist, which uses stereo camera technology to scan ahead for overhead obstructions such as branches overhanging a track.

“The sensors could also be used to identifying the roughness of the track and to adapt the vehicle’s speed accordingly with the Terrain Based Speed adaption technology. The cameras can be used sense bumpy terrain including uneven and undulating surfaces and washboard roads, potholes and even standing water. It is then intelligent enough to predict the potential impact of these surfaces on the car’s ride and automatically adjust speed to keep passengers comfortable,” said the carmaker.

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