Jaguar Land Rover is exploring how to take autonomous vehicle technology off the paved path. But the company has plans for technology on tarmac, too.

The company announced that the Jaguar division will have a fleet of 100 cars testing autonomous technologies on public roads. The testing process will cover a period of four years and begin with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, along with a stereo camera system and autonomous vehicle software. These systems will work together to provide a variety of features that could make their way into future Jaguars and Land Rovers.

The first feature in development is called "Roadwork Assist." The system relies on the stereo camera to create a 3D image the car's software can analyze. The software can identify road cones and other barriers associated with construction sites. The car will then alert the driver about entering the construction zone and provide some steering assistance to keep the car centered in its lane. Tony Harper, Jaguar's head of research, said that this system can reduce stress on the driver, and the technology could eventually be used to allow the car to pilot itself through construction zones.

Testing Jaguar's Roadwork Assist system

Another of Jaguar's proposed features is "Safe Pullaway," which also relies on cameras and software. The Safe Pullaway feature is designed to prevent close-proximity collisions in traffic jams and even in the garage. To do this, the car watches the area immediately ahead of it for obstacles. If the car detects something nearby while the driver adds throttle or shifts into gear, it will apply the brakes to prevent driving into the object.

The final project on Jaguar's plate is its "Over the Horizon Warning" system. This will be one of the first features to rely on Jaguar's vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. The idea is that connected cars in constant communication will give drivers additional warning of upcoming hazards, such as out-of-sight animals and slowed or stopped cars. In Jaguar's example of a stopped car, the stationary vehicle would send a signal alerting approaching cars of the situation. In turn, the approaching vehicles would trigger audible and visual warnings to drivers about the hidden car. Jaguar says that the system could also be applied to emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicles would broadcast a signal to alert drivers well before the lights and sirens get their attention. This would give emergency vehicles a faster, safer path through traffic.

Jaguar's over the horizon warning system could be applied to emergency vehicles

Harper also explained that these technologies will help with developing a fully autonomous car, but they can also provide many benefits to human drivers. He says drivers can have the wheel for enjoyable roads while leaving the computer in charge of navigating boring freeways. Harper goes on to say that many of these technologies could remain active while a human is driving to provide extra information about the road ahead.

"If you are a keen driver, imagine being able to receive a warning that there's a hazard out of sight or around a blind bend," Harper said. "Whether it's a badly parked car or an ambulance heading your way, you could slow down, pass the hazard without fuss and continue on your journey."

We'll be watching the development of these technologies and look forward to seeing their real-life implementations.

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