Like many automakers, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing autonomous-driving technology. But instead of focusing on cars that completely eliminate human drivers, JLR is developing specific features that assist humans.
The company recently tested some of those features at the Mira Technology Park in the U.K., which Top Gear fans might recognize as the site of many of the show’s shenanigans. Tests were conducted in concert with former JLR parent Ford, and current JLR parent Tata Motors.
Features tested included Advanced Highway Assist, Electronic Emergency Brake Light Assist, and Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory. Similar to Tesla’s now-controversial Autopilot system, Advanced Highway Assist allows a car to pass other vehicles on a highway and automatically stay in its lane, without the driver touching the steering wheel or pedals.
The other two features make use of connected-car tech. Sometimes referred to as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, this allows vehicles to gather information from their surroundings and relay it to the driver. In the case of Electronic Emergency Brake Light Assist, a car warns its driver if the vehicle in front brakes hard, in situations when the lead vehicle’s brake lights might not be visible due to weather or the distance between cars.
Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory could help solve a problem many drivers know all too well. As the name implies, it calculates the optimal speed needed to avoid getting caught at traffic lights (presumably that speed is within the legal limit). JLR says this will help improve traffic flow and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by cutting down on stop-start driving.
Over the next four years, JLR plans to launch a fleet of 100 research vehicles to test these and other systems. This program will encompass features designed for both on-road and off-road driving, according to the company. JLR’s stated goal is to use automation to address specific aspects of driving that are tedious or difficult, rather than replacing human drivers altogether.