Jaguar Land Rover Enters the Autonomous Race, Test Vehicles on Public Roads

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
jaguar land rover enters the autonomous race test vehicles on public roads

Jaguar Land Rover has taken its first steps into the scariest part of autonomous development — real world testing.

As most automakers are already deep into R&D work on self-driving cars, luxury manufacturers like JLR cannot afford to be late to the party. In today’s world, premium automobiles are less about ride quality or cabin space and more about having the latest and greatest tech. A big, comfortable car isn’t hard to come by — they used to build them all the time. They also aren’t particularly expensive, especially if you shop on the used market.

However, a 2005 Lincoln Town Car in the driveway doesn’t scream “prestige” to the neighbors. But an autonomous Range Rover that parks itself in the garage while you get the mail is something else entirely. If you had a vehicle like that, the guy across the street would have difficulty even holding your now-powerful gaze — shamed by his own car’s clear inferiority. Imagine what kind of price you might pay to have that kind of mastery over another person. Now you can see why this technology is so important to JLR.

“Testing this self-driving project on public roads is so exciting, as the complexity of the environment allows us to find robust ways to increase road safety in the future,” explained Nick Rogers, the company’s executive director of product engineering. “By using inputs from multiple sensors, and finding intelligent ways to process this data, we are gaining accurate technical insight to pioneer the automotive application of these technologies … We are supporting innovative research that will be integral to the infrastructure, technology and legal landscape needed to make intelligent, self-driving vehicles a reality within the next decade.”

The collaborative project he’s speaking of is UK Autodrive, which kicked off road-testing this Friday with Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Co., and Tata Motors’ European Technical Center as participants. According to the group, this week’s kickoff represents the largest trial of connected and autonomous vehicle in the United Kingdom.

UK Autodrive is the largest of three consortia launched to encourage the introduction of self-driving cars in Europe. Previous tests were conducted in closed-testing environments or in virtual spaces. The United Kingdom only began testing autonomous vehicles in public spaces about a year ago, when a LUTZ Pathfinder made a mile journey through Milton Keynes at a snail’s pace.

Jaguar Land Rover intends to clip along at more competitive speeds (the Pathfinder never made it above 15 miles per hour). The company wants to know how other drivers respond to anonymous vehicles and how to replicate human behavior while driving. Meanwhile, Ford is focusing more on how to make connected cars communicate with each other effectively.

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Nov 19, 2017

    Now THAT'S safe- theres so much junk mounted on the dash and mirror that there's only about four inches of clear space to see objects, cars and people slightly to the left. The car had better be good at autonomous driving!

  • Tstag Tstag on Nov 20, 2017

    A blind person might disagree that autonomous cars are a waste of time as might anyone who wants a cheap taxi

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
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