Jaguar Land Rover has given the public a first glimpse of how close it is to developing truly autonomous cars. When reporting on carmakers making the biggest strides towards the ultimate aim of building vehicles with full autonomy, they’re usually Mercedes, BMW, Volvo and Tesla. However, at a special testing ground this week Jaguar Land Rover offered the first public demonstrations of a car it’s been developing that already has Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ scale, there are five steps or levels of autonomy with one being a single function, such as cruise control, and five being a car capable of driving itself without any input from a human driver, regardless of road situation. Level Four is defined as a full autonomous operation of all driving functions in specific scenarios. And on a specially created urban environment set up on a test track a technologically adapted Range Rover Sport demonstrated how it can obey traffic lights, negotiate junctions, roundabouts and other typical inner city road situations.
“Our Autonomous Urban Drive research is Jaguar Land Rover’s next step in our development of both fully and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies,” said Tony Harper, Director of Engineering Research, Jaguar Land Rover. And as impressive as it is to see a car negotiating a closed inner city environment, coping in the real world is different entirely. That’s why prototypes will be hitting the roads of the UK later this year to undergo real-world testing, initially on closed sections of road but then in proper traffic situations.
The ultimate aim is to bring this level of autonomy to production Land Rovers and Jaguars within the next decade, but in a way that complements rather than takes over the driving. “We aren’t looking at simply replacing the driver, and making cars ‘driverless’. Future technologies will give the driver more not less — they will assist and ultimately enhance the driving experience,” said Harper.