Land Rovers Introduces ‘See-through’ Bonnet
Remember James Bond’s ‘invisible’ Aston Martin in Die Another Day? Well, when that film came out eons ago, critics were ridiculing that piece of fictional technology, labeling it as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘far fetched’. Why do we underestimate the capabilities of our own species? Once more, life is imitating art and the geniuses amongst us are proving that we can realise anything that our imagination can conjure up. In this case, the genius is Land Rover and the invention is their latest ‘transparent bonnet’ technology.
The technology is really not terribly complicated, at least not for the average tech user today anyway. It is simply a very clever application of augmented reality, using well-placed cameras to capture images of the road below the bonnet, and then projecting it onto the windshield in real time so that it appears to overlay the bonnet from the driver’s perspective. The technology is practical and useful, not merely for espionage for unfortunately not all of us can be suave British secret agents; especially so for Land Rover SUVs, which are used to traverse rough terrains with plenty of sharp rocks and uneven surfaces.
This video lets you see how it might appear to the driver:
At about 0:14 minutes into the video, the bonnet (and everything else underneath: the engine, radiator, battery, etc) magically ‘disappears’ to reveal the road below. According to Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), “As our vehicles become more capable and autonomous off-road, we will ensure the driver has the confidence to allow the car to continue to progress, over any terrain. We are developing new technologies including the Transparent Bonnet to give drivers an augmented view of reality to help them tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of an urban car park.”
Epple, prior to joining Land Rover, was the Senior Operations Director of Proton, and was instrumental in developing the Malaysian national automaker’s P3-21A platform, on which the Proton Preve is built. After decades of bad reputation of lacklustre products with distrusted quality, the Preve garnered favourable reviews from the local as well as regional markets. We don’t mean to digress from the subject matter at hand, but it must have been a great loss to Proton to have ‘lost’ Epple. Meanwhile, JLR has shown that it meant business when it comes to developing advanced automotive technology by investing a reported GBP100 million into its R&D facility (read: Jaguar Land Rover Gets Serious About Research).
Tata must be a very proud father and extremely pleased with itself for ‘adopting’ Land Rover six years ago. The India-based automaker has been relying on JLR for its profits and now will also be making use of the Land Rover Freelander’s platform to develop a new SUV for the Indian market. The Freelander’s successor is expected in 2015, which means that the outgoing model for Land Rover will become an incoming model for Tata, codenamed the ‘Q5’; the development and production infrastructure for the platform would have already been amortised, which also means that Tata’s Q5 can be priced very reasonably while still being of excellent quality, to rival other Japanese, Korean and European SUV brands in the country.
Meanwhile, March sales for Land Rover hit a tiny bump with a 1.1% year-on-year decline (Jaguar is up 19.4%, so Tata can still breathe easy). There is no update yet on when and which models will be enhanced with the virtual aid feature, but perhaps this bit of ‘really cool’ technology update from Land Rover will give its brand and sales numbers a little boost.