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JLR develops autonomous off-roader

New frontier: JLR is developing autonomous technology to help its vehicles navigate off-road as well as on-road.

‘5D’ technology used to read terrain and weather in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles

31 May 2018

JAGUAR Land Rover (JLR) is developing autonomous prototype vehicles that are as capable off-road as they are on it, honing the technology through a project dubbed Cortex.
The £3.7 million ($A6.5m) project is aiming to create technology capable of Level 4 and 5 automation off-road, meaning it can operate independently in specific environments (Level 4) or fully independently without human intervention (Level 5).
In order to read unpredictable road surfaces, JLR is using what it calls ‘5D’ technology – combining acoustic, video, radar, light detection and distance sensing (LiDAR) data – in real time to assess the environment and make the vehicle respond accordingly.
The brand’s decision to pursue off-road autonomy was first announced in mid-2016, where it stated it aimed to create a fleet of more than 100 test vehicles over the next four years. 
JLR’s end goal is to develop a system that allows the test vehicles to behave in increasingly sophisticated manners that are fully capable of traversing environments as varied as dirt, rain, ice, snow or fog.
It wants to make the self-driving car viable in the widest possible range of on- and off-road driving environments, with the customer able to choose levels of automation in their vehicle.
The technology will largely be developed by Cortex, a collaborative project launched in March designed to support the development and delivery of self-driving vehicles in the UK, and will use algorithm development, sensor optimisation and physical testing on off-road tracks.
Joining in the research is the University of Birmingham, which is a front-runner in research for radar and sensing in autonomous platforms.
It is funded jointly by government and business, and was announced during the third round of funding for connected and autonomous vehicles by Innovate UK, a government initiative that aims to stimulate research and innovation in British businesses.
JLR connected and autonomous vehicle research manager Chris Holmes said it was crucial to develop autonomous technology to keep up with the capability of its vehicles.
“It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers,” he said. 
“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. 
“Cortex gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vision in the near future.”

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