JLR aims for fully autonomous cars by 2021

Published: 08 July 2016

► Wolfgang Epple on Jag’s tech future
► Fully autonomous driving in five years
► Cutting down on driver workload

1) Autonomous cars in five years

‘It’s a minimum of five years until we see a fully autonomous car on sale from Jaguar Land Rover, but by 2025 our cars will be able to manage chaotic traffic situations and have full contextual awareness – not just from a map, but by looking around. An autonomous car needs more than two eyes; it needs more than 20 different sensors. By 2030 we will see high-frequency radar, dual- and multi-spectra LIDAR [laser radar], and car-to-car and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.’

2) We want to take tedious chores away from drivers

‘Jaguar was first to introduce Active Cruise Control. Our cars will offer increased autonomy, but we don’t want to offer a robotic device. We want to use Active Driver Assistance features to take the tedious jobs away. Trust the technology and you have more fun – when stability control was first introduced, everyone turned it off; now everyone is an F1 driver because they can carry 30% more speed through a corner.’

3) Making sure drivers are well and happy

‘Wellness monitoring can measure breathing rate and bpm through the driver’s seat to detect stress and drowsiness, so the car can better adapt to the driver’s needs, for instance by changing the mood lighting or climate-control settings. If an autonomous car needs to hand control back to the driver, it can use wellness monitoring to decide whether it is safe to do so, although the driver could override the system. Our next step is to conduct user trials. The technology could be ready within 10 years.’

4) Reading a driver’s mind

‘In 10-15 years the car will be able to sense the driver’s brainwaves through the steering wheel, to check that they’re alert and focused. The technology is currently used by NASA and the US bobsleigh team and can identify brainwaves associated with daydreaming, then issue warnings to the driver.’

5) Hand tracking and more

‘We are investigating a predictive touchscreen system – a depth camera to track hand movement in a 3D space, while ultrasound provides a sensation of contact with a physical surface and is accurate to 1cm; it feels like a light jet of air on your fingertip. Predictive touch speeds up touchscreen interaction by 22% and ensures drivers look away from the road less often.’

6) Drivers can become overloaded with signals

‘To stop the driver becoming overloaded with visual warnings, we are investigating supplementary ways to warn the driver. The haptic accelerator pedal can pulse lightly under a driver’s foot to warn of danger, or provide more resistance if the driver is accelerating beyond the speed limit. If a bicycle moves down the side of the car, we could replicate the sound of a bicycle bell through the stereo system, or use a tap on the shoulder through a seat sensor – we can’t help but react to touch.’

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By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator