Project Vector: JLR Debuts Autonomy-ready Shuttle Pod
Destination Zero is a catchall for Jaguar Land Rover’s future projects. It envisions a tomorrow where pollution, traffic congestion and accidents have all been eliminated — hence the “zero” suffix. While the company probably has bigger fish to fry, what with the coronavirus-related parts shortage and financial troubles in several key markets, it has made investments into self-driving tech and electrification like every other automaker. Sometimes you have to show your hand to prove you’re still at the table.
On Tuesday, the company announced Project Vector — an adaptable city vehicle that’s claimed to be “autonomy-ready.”
Developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre in collaboration with parent company Tata Motors and the University of Warwick, JLR said it plans to use the vehicle as part of a mobility service in Coventry late next year. While the autonomous shuttle business has picked up steam around the world, many are pilot programs not intended to do much more than help municipalities decide if the service is right for them. This will also be the case for JLR’s pod, which will simultaneously be evaluated by the manufacturer as it carts around the locals.
Most of the details surrounding Project Vector have been obscured by its status as a concept vehicle. We do know it will come with traditional controls and have a highly configurable interior — allowing it to work as a delivery vehicle for people or goods when it’s not acting as personal transportation.
At four meters long, the pod is supposed to maximize interior volume by stacking the cabin atop the powertrain and battery in the skateboard-style setup. But the rest is foggy. Jaguar Land Rover hasn’t shared things like battery size or how fast Project Vector is around the Nürburgring (because you’re probably dying to find out). We imagine it probably doesn’t know those things at this juncture, either. In fact, the best information we received had more to do with the manufacturer’s vision of autonomy than it did any physical product.
From Jaguar Land Rover:
The megatrends of urbanisation and digitalisation make connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable. Shared and private vehicles will share spaces with and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on demand and autonomously. That is a complex task, best achieved by working together with partners across the spectrum of vehicles, infrastructure and the digital world.
Future urban travel will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, access to ride hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport. Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted for different purposes. The intention is to collaborate with Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority to plan a mobility service from late 2021, as a living laboratory for future mobility on the streets of Coventry.
JLR seems to view vehicle-to-infrastructure comms as unavoidable, with the community sharing vehicles through multiple networks. That seems at odds with a firm that focuses on selling high-end products to private buyers, but it’s in line with the industry’s general push towards autonomy. With the United Kingdom planning to ban the sale of new internal combustion vehicles in 2035, you can hardly blame it.
[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]
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"a tomorrow where pollution, traffic congestion and accidents have all been eliminated" -Jaguar and Land Rover. What a time to be alive.
You're never going to eliminate traffic congestion as long as every road user takes up 200+ square feet of space. It's just physically impossible.