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A new line in information: the Jaguar Virtual Windshield.

JLR sheds light on R&D projects in advanced HMI, automated driving

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has tugged hard on its veil of technology secrecy to reveal a raft of R&D projects that are part of the automaker's recently announced $3.5B investment in new-product creation. Besides what company officials term “a major new car” every six months, there are up to 50 “major production actions” (including the new Ingenium modular engine program; see over the next five years.

JLR is placing great emphasis on its huge R&D investment. R&D Director Dr. Wolfgang Epple revealed several programs, some of which will remain in the lab, but many others will make production, he said. As well as U.K. facilities, JLR has an U.S. R&D center in Portland, OR, close to Intel’s facility.

Laser (or "coherent light systems") work covers headlight applications, road marking for warning signals, and a system dubbed Laser Wade Aid that can measure water depth before a vehicle even gets its front tires wet.

The human-machine interface (HMI) is a priority and includes the use of self-learning algorithm systems to anticipate driver and passenger requirements ranging from infotainment to diary dates. “The aim of our self-learning car technology is to minimize driver distraction,” said Epple.

Gesture control using e-field sensing is also under development at JLR for such things as sat nav. Epple said the company's technology features "carefully calibrated motion sensors.”

JLR also unveiled a 3-D instrument cluster using head and eye tracking technology via mini cameras. Software adjusts the image projection to create a three-dimensional effect by feeding each eye two slightly differing angles of an image; 3D eyeglasses are not necessary. It took this Automotive Engineering editor’s eyes just a moment to adjust to such interesting technology, which could also be used to replace rear-view mirrors, as it facilitates driver judgment of speed and distance.

An extraordinary project revealed by Dr. Epple is the Jaguar Virtual Windshield. Instead of a small head-up image, the whole windshield becomes a display. From the aspect of safety, hazard warning, speed, and navigation icons could be projected, but as a performance car manufacturer, Jaguar sees other possibilities including a track application, which engineers demonstrated.

Symbols on the screen show the racing line to take through corners. Braking points are also clearly marked. It is also possible to virtually project another car ahead as a “specter image” to bring an element of added competition into the drive.

The system also lends itself to test work. Virtual cones can be displayed on the windshield to form a slalom pattern and the car actually driven round them. It saves on labor; the virtual cones do not need to be stood up again when clipped by aggressive or careless drivers.

JLR is giving no firm indication of whether the system will be offered on a production car and whether they have a supplier able to meet the necessary criteria. Dr. Epple regards the Virtual Windshield system as potentially giving a driver improved information “to enhance the driving experience” and to keep eyes focused outside the vehicle.

He added: “By presenting the highest quality imagery possible, a driver need only look at a display once. Showing virtual images that allow the driver to accurately judge speed and distance will enable better decision-making and offer real benefits for everyday driving on the road or the track.”

Autonomous, or highly automated, driving is also very much on JLR’s R&D “to do” list as part of its Intelligent Driving program.

Further tugs by JLR on its veil of secrecy are expected and anticipated with great curiosity.

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