Jaguar Land Rover is developing a suite of technologies that will aid drivers when they take their vehicles off-road. The systems will allow vehicles to drive with greater levels of autonomy by reading the type of ground the vehicle is on and communicating with other vehicles in a convoy.
JLR’s terrain-based speed adaption system, surface ID technology and off-road connected convoy feature will make it easier to traverse difficult terrain.
JLR’s director for group strategy, Adrian Hallmark said: “The aim of our autonomous all-terrain driving research is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather conditions. If you enjoy the benefits of autonomous lane keeping on a motorway at the start of your journey, in the future we want to ensure you can use this for your entire journey, even if this is via a rough track or gravel road.”
To achieve this target the firm’s engineers are developing these three key technologies.
The terrain-based speed adaption project allows the vehicle to regulate its speed to suit the conditions, reducing driver workload and increase ride comfort according to JLR. Based on data from a forward facing stereo camera features in the terrain are mapped against different target speeds, but speed is also managed according to the actual response of the vehicle and the suspension.
Surface ID uses the vehicle’s ultrasonic sensors and the acoustic signals that they provide to determine the surface the vehicle will be driving on. The technology data is cross-referenced with a database and works within a distance of five metres.
The last technology, off-road connected convoy, uses dedicated short range communications (DSRC), to deliver information to vehicles so they can adapt their speed and other settings for upcoming obstacles. Information is broadcast every 100 milliseconds.
If the lead vehicle stops or if its wheels slip driving over a difficult boulder, the information is transmitted live to all of the other vehicles in the convoy. The DSRC systems works on the 5.9GHz frequency and has a range of up to 1.5km and can carry as much as 20Mbit/s of data. But engineers are using the technology because of the low latency of between five and 10 milliseconds.