Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it will launch cars with fully autonomous tech capable of off-roading. Testing of this tech – currently dubbed 'Project Cortex' – will take place in the UK on off-road tracks. However, the algorithms and the prerequisite sensors that make the tech possible are still being developed and tweaked.
Once ready, Project Cortex would use a series of sound, video, radar and Lidar sensors to map the car’s surroundings and build what the company calls a five-dimensional image of the world around the car. The technology will then allow a car to tackle and traverse challenging terrains without the input of its driver. Machine learning will also enable the system to improve, over time. The system will be on offer in semi- (Level 3) and fully autonomous (Level 4 and 5) forms so the driver can choose whether they drive or are driven by the car.
Chris Holmes, JLR's connected and autonomous vehicle research manager, has said, “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers. 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.”
JLR remains tight-lipped on the finer details of the car and its technology. Some information is still unknown – such as when the tech is expected to be implemented and whether its partners on the project differ from those for its on-road autonomy strategy.
The two brands have already showcased future autonomous tech in a fully autonomous Range Rover prototype which is capable of Level 4 autonomy — where the driver must be present to take over control when needed, but by and large does not need to pay attention to the road, hold the steering wheel or operate any controls.
Jaguar has already partnered with Google autonomous subsidiary Waymo. The British carmaker is also part of the UK’s Autodrive project, which (alongside Ford) tests autonomous vehicles on UK roads.