Land Rover revealed its Discovery Vision Concept SUV prior to the opening of the in New York International Auto Show; the concept—heavy on new assistance systems, especially for all-terrain situations, and advanced human machine interface and connectivity options—is a preview of Land Rover’s future family of Discovery vehicles, the first model of which is due in 2015.
The Discovery Vision Concept offers a glimpse into the advanced research projects which are underway at Jaguar Land Rover. They illustrate how future Land Rovers could evolve, and include:
Next-generation Human-Machine Interface (HMI) technology creates an immersive multimedia experience for all occupants, including video calls between passengers through the seatback infotainment screens, Smart Glass bringing the power of augmented reality to the entire glasshouse, and various functions, including the doors, indicators, headlamps and seatback screens, operated by Gesture Control.
Smart glass is capable of displaying imagery, like a computer screen, but is otherwise entirely transparent, like regular glass. Smart glass is used in the entire glasshouse of the Discovery Vision Concept—in all the windows, the panoramic roof and, allied to Head-Up Display (HUD) technology, in the windshield.
Augmented reality involves overlaying real-time information onto the view of the surroundings as seen through the windows by the driver or passengers. The smart glass in the window can work in conjunction with eye-tracking sensors and the vehicle’s sat-nav system to identify that, for instance, a passing landmark is being observed by one of the vehicle’s passengers—and displays relevant information, such as navigation or tourist data, to that passenger.
That information can then be swiped from the window directly into a passenger’s seatback infotainment screen, or—adding in the functionality of passengers’ personal devices—to a docked tablet or smartphone.
The image projection properties of smart glass also enhance the view through the windows; for instance, bay parking, reversing around corners or parking a trailer is made easier by projecting camera feeds onto the driver’s view out of the smart-glass window, broadening the field of vision.
Laser headlights. The Discovery Vision Concept’s headlights feature laser diodes in combination with LED running lights. These lights utilize laser-activated phosphor projection to emit a very bright and even beam of pure white light. The power of the laser light beam adds a distance of over 300 meters (328 yards) to the range of the headlight, and the quality of the light itself is closer to daylight—smooth and clean, with no patchiness or speckling—than any other type of artificial light, making for excellent and greatly enhanced visibility on the road.
Jaguar Land Rover’s intelligent dipping and tracking technology uses hi-definition cameras to automatically detect and assess oncoming traffic, instantly dipping the relevant parts of the light beam to avoid glare to other road users, and adjusting the rest of the beam to maintain perfect visibility in all driving situations.
The Discovery Vision Concept also shows the direction of advanced all-terrain technologies developed by Land Rover:
Remote Control Drive. This feature enables the driver to maneuver the car at very low speed while not actually seated inside it, via the removable secondary rotary on the centre console, as well as via a smartphone or tablet.
Applications include extreme off-roading, where it is sometimes safer and easier to inch the vehicle over obstacles from an outside vantage point, coupling to a trailer, or driving through gates, where the driver can avoid repeatedly getting in and out of the vehicle by simply opening the gate and letting the vehicle drive through via Remote Control Drive, before shutting the gate and re-entering the vehicle.Remote Control Drive has a simple, easy-to-use interface, encrypted access and operation only via the vehicle’s localized WiFi, putting the power of autonomous vehicle control safely and securely in the driver’s hands.
Laser Terrain Scanning. Another enhancement to the driver’s capability is Laser Terrain Scanning. The Discovery Vision Concept’s foglamps are capable of emitting infrared lasers, and these are used to scan the ground ahead, map the terrain and display the mapped imagery on the hi-definition cluster screen, providing the driver a vital visual reference and helping him understand the lay of the land while driving in challenging off-road conditions.
Laser Referencing. Both on and off the road,the Discovery Vision Concept’s laser technology capability offers an additional resource: Laser Referencing. Here, the laser light is tuned to specific colors in the visible spectrum and used to project visible images onto the road. This has numerous useful applications, including projecting warning triangles onto the tarmac behind the car for other motorists to see in the event of a stoppage, or projecting reference points onto roads, walls or any terrain, in order to help the driver to judge tight gaps and to park or drive in congested spaces.
Transparent Hood. Cameras under the vehicle’s grille send video of the terrain being traversed, projecting it to the Head-Up Display in the windshield. By overlaying the imagery through the driver’s line of sight on the HUD covering the bonnet area, the system effectively creates a ‘see-through’ hood view of the terrain and the direction of the front wheels, thus improving visibility and enhancing driver confidence.
Terrain Response. The next generation of Land Rover’s iconic multi-mode terrain-tackling system links up and networks all these advanced capability technologies, as well as Hill Descent Control, wet grass traction control, auto hi/lo, Low Speed Steering Assist and Wade Aid.
Terrain Response not only analyses the type of terrain being traversed—snow, ice, mud, grass, water, rocks, ruts, tarmac, gravel, sand, inclines and so on—but also proactively anticipates upcoming terrain via Laser Terrain Scanning and forward-facing camera sensors, and instantly engages the appropriate system to best respond to that type of terrain and situation.
Wade Aid is a new sensory wading system that uses lasers to judge the depth of water ahead before the vehicle even begins to wade, and informs the driver of the feasibility of the intended wading maneuver.
The Discovery Vision Concept’s all-terrain capability enables differing levels of driving enhancement:
All Terrain Progress Control:A low-speed all-terrain cruise control that vectors torque to enable semi-autonomous off-road driving at a steady speed.
All Terrain Coach: for the more manually inclined. Here, the driver chooses from a menu the type of terrain being traversed and then gets a recommendation as to which off-road system ought to be activated for the best response.
Enhanced All Terrain Coach: marks a specific route across a terrain map rendered on the console display via Terrain Scanning, and suggests the appropriate systems to help navigate it step-by-step.
The systems on the Discovery Vision Concept offer multiple levels of autonomy, so that the driver always has the choice to be engaged and involved with the terrain just as much as desired or needed.