Today, U.K.-based automotive manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover released details about its ongoing research and experimentation with autonomous vehicles, including an app that controls a Range Rover from outside the vehicle and a system that automatically performs precise multi-point turns in tight situations.
The smartphone app, which is currently just a prototype and is not publicly available, takes control of the Range Rover Sport's steering, accelerator and brakes, so the features can be controlled from outside of the vehicle, at a speed of up to 4 mph, as long as the driver and the key fob are within 33 feet (10 meters).
The idea is to help off-road drivers carefully and precisely navigate steep embankments or other challenging routes, as well as help urban drivers exit tight parking spaces. The "Multi-Point Turn" Range Rover Sport performs autonomous 180-degree turns, while the driver sits back and watches.
From a related press release:
"The system uses sensors to assess available space and to avoid pedestrians, vehicles and other objects. The system takes over gear selection, steering, braking and acceleration to make as many forward and backwards movements as necessary to achieve the manoeuvre."
Jaguar Land Rover says its ultimate goal with autonomous vehicles is to give drivers the choice between "engaged" drives, or human-control driving, and autonomous controls.
Again, the app is just a prototype, and the multi-turn system is still being tested. It will likely be some time before either technology is publicly available, if they're ever released at all. Security will also be a major concern, of course, because nobody wants some random Bad Guy to take control of their shiny new luxury SUV.
Jaguar Land Rover and its automotive counterparts are dedicating lots of time and energy into researching these next-generation technologies, as are tech heavies such as Google. Jaguar Land Rover also recently announced a major investment in M2M technology that aims to collect data from drivers and then warn others about potholes in the roads.
Check out the company's website for more information on its remote control Range Rover and the autonomous multi-point turn system.