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JLR one step closer to autonomy

Smart kitty: Jaguar Land Rover is working on improving its autonomous technologies ahead of an on-road test at the end of the year in Coventry and Milton Keynes in the UK.

Level four autonomous driving being tested by Jaguar Land Rover mules in UK

26 Jun 2017

JAGUAR Land Rover (JLR) is aiming to demonstrate its newest self-driving prototype on public roads by the end of the year as the British manufacturer continues to develop its autonomous technology research program.

Showcasing new technology dubbed Autonomous Urban Drive, JLR says its test mule fitted with the new hardware will be able to operate autonomously through a city, obeying traffic lights and negotiating junctions such as T-intersections and roundabouts.

The new technology puts JLR one step closer to achieving ‘level four’ autonomy in its passenger vehicles, which it plans to implement within the next decade.

Level four is the second-highest level of autonomy according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and is characterised by vehicles that are capable of completing entire driving tasks for specific environments such as towns and cities without any driver intervention.

Level five would be full automation where no human control of the vehicle is needed under any circumstance.

The Autonomous Urban Drive program is currently being tested at the proving ground of automotive engineering and technology company Horiba Mira, with JLR working on fully and semi-autonomous technologies.

Testing involves passengers using the Autonomous Urban Drive technology to select a location, with the Range Rover Sport research mule deciding the best route and navigating the urban environment to get there.

This latest development is part of JLR’s £20 million (A$33.64m) collaborative UK Autodrive research and development project, in which it is partnering with Ford and parent company Tata to help develop vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies.

Such technologies include intersection collision risk warning, which warns the driver in advance when there is high risk of a crash when entering an intersection in vehicle signage which sends information such as roadworks and speed limit changes directly to the car’s display and emergency vehicle warning, which tells drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching and from which direction.

The government-backed collaboration began in October last year and will wrap up in October next year, with the goal of introducing self-driving vehicles to the UK.

JLR director of engineering and research Tony Harper said that the goal of their autonomous research was to aid, not replace, the driver.

“The automotive landscape is changing faster today than ever before,” he said. “As a technology company, our innovation is continuous and our cars of the future will become more capable, cleaner, more connected, more desirable and smarter.

“Our Autonomous Urban Drive research is Jaguar Land Rover’s next step in our development of both fully and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies.

“However, 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.” JLR has been ramping up its push into autonomy in recent times, having announced last week that it is looking to recruit 5000 software and electronic engineers by the end of the year, teaming up with virtual music band Gorillaz to promote its initiative.

Earlier this month it also announced a US$25 million ($A32.98 million) investment in ride-sharing platform Lyft, with the collaboration allowing JLR and its mobility services business InMotion to test its autonomous technologies through a fleet of donated vehicles.

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