Land Rover working on tech that turns the Defender into a remote-controlled car

30 September 2019 - autoblog

Land Rover working on tech that turns the Defender into a remote-controlled car

This feature will come in handy in extreme off-road situations

Land Rover is turning the 2020 Defender into a life-sized remote-controlled car. It's working on technology that will let owners step outside of the SUV and drive it remotely at low speeds.

The yet-unnamed feature is being developed for offroading, not to get the Defender in and out of a tight spot at Nordstrom. The British firm believes motorists will have an easier time clearing tight spots and obstacles in the trail from outside of the vehicle than from behind the steering wheel.

Adding this feature to the just-revealed Defender at the outset would have been costly and complicated, but the second-generation model was developed with cutting-edge technology in mind from the get-go. Work is ongoing in Land Rover's research and development department to make it a reality.

"We've got as far as understanding how to do it, and we've run prototypes as well," Stuart Frith, the firm's chief product engineer, told British magazine Autocar. He didn't reveal when a remote-controlled Defender will arrive in showrooms, or where.

Controlling a prototype using a remote (which is presumably either a key fob or a smartphone) is only half of the battle. Land Rover needs to slash its way through a jungle of red tape before it's allowed to launch the feature, and its denseness will vary from market to market. It needs to determine how close to the car the driver must be for the system to work, for example, what speed to cap it at, and make sure there's a safe, quick way to turn it off in case something goes wrong.

Jumping through the legal hoops is complicated, but it's not impossible. Similar technology offered on BMW's 5 and 7 Series allows owners to park the car in a tight spot using only the key fob. And Tesla is about to incorporate its Smart Summon feature in its Version 10.0 software release.

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