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

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old vehicles evetually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.