SELF-DRIVING LANDIES HEAD OFF-ROAD

AUTONOMOUS TECH GETS OFF THE BEATEN TRACK, BUT IS IT TAKING THE FUN OUT OF FOUR-WHEEL DRIVING?

WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

LAND Rover has shown some of its development vehicles using advanced autonomous technology designed for off- and on-road use.

Tony Harper, head of research at Jaguar Land Rover, said: We dont want to limit future highly automated and fully autonomous technologies to tarmac. When the driver turns off the road, we want this support and assistance to continue. In the future, if you enjoy the benefits of autonomous lane keeping on a motorway at the start of your journey, we want to ensure you can use this all the way to your destination, even if this is via a rough track or gravel road.

The tech allows vehicles in a convoy to talk to each other so that the rearmost vehicle gets track information from the one in front. It then automatically adjusts vehicle electronic systems, such as Terrain Response, to the optimal setting for the track lying ahead.

The vehicles use the latest cameras, ultrasonic, radar and Lidar sensors to give a 360-degree view around the car, with sensors so advanced it could determine surface characteristics down to the width of a tyre even in rain and falling snow to plan its route forward.

Ultrasonic sensors can identify surface conditions by scanning up to five metres ahead of the car, so Terrain Response settings could be automatically changed before the car drives from tarmac to snow or from grass to sand. This will optimise all-terrain performance, without loss of momentum or control. It even works overhead with Overhead Clearance Assist scanning for things like overhanging tree branches and warning the driver if they pose a hazard. The information can also automatically slow the vehicle down for bumps and water crossings, or for sand and snow.

The technology is all very clever, interesting and were sure it has safety benefits, but is it taking the thrill and skill out of driving off-road?

Is it another way of taking the thought process away from the individual and dumbing down the population for the sake of technology? Wed be interested to hear your thoughts on it: www. facebook.com/4x4aus.