Negative news regarding Tesla’s autopilot systems, including several fatalities, hasn’t stopped other automakers from pursuing similar technologies.
Despite the bumps Tesla has faced, consumers are still fascinated with its visionary leader, Elon Musk, and the idea of self-driving cars. If anything, technology has actually been lagging what we expected the driving experience of 2020 to look like: George Jetson in his levitating car, getting him where he needs to go in the least amount of time, with the least amount of effort.
Jaguar Land Rover showcased its latest connected and autonomous vehicle technologies as part of the UK Autodrive demonstrations which took place in the UK last week. The automaker is working with Ford and Tata Motors to test connected technologies that will allow cars to talk to each other as well as to the roadside infrastructure, such as traffic lights, in the future.
Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies are one of Jaguar Land Rover’s research priorities, according to the automaker. It is creating a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles to develop and test a wide range of technologies over the next four years.
The goal is to enhance the driving experience as well as to make driving smarter and cleaner.
Here’s one very practical example. If you drive the same route to work or any destination over and over, you discover that either the lights are “timed” well — if you make one green light and then drive the speed limit, you will encounter all green lights. Otherwise, the traffic lights seem to be timed out of sync with each other and no matter what you do, every light you encounter is red or turning red, which makes for a frustrating and slow commute.
Enter Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory. The car connects to traffic lights advising the driver of the best driving speed required to reach the lights when they are on green. This will improve traffic flow, lower emissions as well as dramatically enhance the driver’s experience. What was once a nightmare commute is suddenly more pleasurable, without the constant stop and go due to red lights.
Jaguar Land Rover knows that there’s a huge potential for these technologies in future vehicles around the world, says Tony Harper, head of research, Jaguar Land Rover. Collaborating with other automakers will result in getting the technology to market sooner.
“Until now, we have focused on communication between Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles,” he says. “This collaborative approach is a major stepping stone towards all connected and autonomous vehicles co-operating with each other in the future. Our aim is to give drivers exactly the right information at the right time and collaborations with other manufacturers are essential to help us deliver this commitment to our customers.”
The focus is on improving challenging or more tedious parts of driving while maintaining an enjoyable driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the autonomous car viable in the widest range of real-life driving environments and weather conditions
Here are two more technologies that have the potential of taking the stress out of driving. Advanced Highway Assist allows the vehicle to overtake vehicles automatically, as well as stay in its lane on the motorway without the driver having to touch either the steering wheel or the pedals. Electronic Emergency Brake Light Assist warns drivers when a vehicle ahead brakes severely or unexpectedly. This is particularly useful when driving in dense fog or if the vehicle in front is out of sight.
UK Autodrive has another task besides the technology aspect. It will also investigate other aspects of automated driving, including safety and cyber-security issues as well as the public’s acceptance for connected and autonomous vehicles.
The group can help reassure consumers who have been frightened by the news of the Tesla accidents. But chances are the promise of an improved driving experience — that is actually safer due to the above technologies — should help automakers sell it through. It might not be exactly like driving with The Jetsons, but it’s a start.