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Project Vector is JLR’s autonomous pod of the future

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled its Project Vector concept, a pod-like vehicle that envisions how it would address demand for autonomous vehicles in future urban infrastructure. You might see it testing in Coventry sooner rather than later.

JLR describes Project Vector as how it’s “developing tomorrow’s mobility, today”, and is a key next step in its Destination Zero plan. Indeed, this is not a future replacement for the upcoming all-electric XJ.

Rather, it’s a proposal for a mobility solution in parts of the world that are looking to evolve beyond the traditional driven car, as we know it today. It’s JLR’s vision of “an autonomous, electric, connected future for urban mobility”. 

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

“Future urban travel will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, access to ride-hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport,” explained Dr. Tim Leverton, project director.

“Shared and private vehicles will share spaces with and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on demand and autonomously. That is a complex task, best achieved by working together with partners across the spectrum of vehicles, infrastructure and the digital world.

”Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted for different purposes.”

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

Its battery down-low ‘skateboard’ design means that the platform can be very versatile. It measures just four metres in length, while the cabin allows for multiple configurations and uses.

These range from luxurious personal transit, to being a shared shuttle, and even a ‘last-mile’ delivery vehicle. Think of it as the next Addison Lee, Uber Luxe and DPD van, with a splash of urban tram, all rolled into one.

This experimental vehicle is also part of JLR’s study on how customers will connect with future mobility, and how the infrastructure will grow to meet it.

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

“It’s a unique opportunity,” explained chief engineer Professor Dr Gero Kempf.

”A concept platform designed and engineered around urban-centric use cases by a major car maker as a blank canvas, for developing tailored services and apps in the ecosystem of a smart city.”

JLR’s ‘living laboratory’ in Coventry

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

The most interesting part is that JLR wants Vector to go beyond many ‘future mobility’ concepts we’ve seen, which are at best a drawing board vision made 3D. Project Vector might well be put into action, with a collaboration planned with Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority. 

The plan is for a mobility service from late 2021, as a “living laboratory for future mobility on the streets of Coventry”. Put simply, JLR might be deploying something like Project Vector in Coventry as some sort of futuristic tram for the road network. It’s how park and ride services across the UK could look ten years from now. Obviously, there is potential for more bespoke applications.

‘The brightest minds in academia’

JLR Project Vector, autonomous pod for the future

“Project Vector shows Jaguar Land Rover as a leader in innovation to make our societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner,” said JLR CEO, Sir Ralf Speth.

”Through this project, we are collaborating with the brightest minds in academia, supply chain and digital services, to create connected, integrated mobility systems – the fundamental building blocks for Destination Zero.

“Project Vector is precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission.”

Jaguar Land Rover to pause production at West Midlands plants

Jaguar Land Rover midlands production paused

Jaguar Land Rover plans to halt production on select days at two of its manufacturing facilities in the West Midlands. The move is blamed on slow sales and a declining global market. The Solihull and Castle Bromwich factories will have half and full days off between now and the end of March.

JLR’s turmoil was big news in 2019, with sales down 5.9 percent compared with the previous year. In the three months to the end of December, retail sales were down 2.3 percent.

The fall in popularity of diesel and difficult market conditions in China have been noted in the past as causes for the contraction in sales.

Jaguar Land Rover midlands production paused

“We have confirmed that our Solihull and Castle Bromwich plants will make some minor changes to their production schedules to reflect fluctuating demand globally, whilst still meeting customer needs,” said a Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson,

The stoppages have been described as a move to “enable sustainable growth and safeguard long-term success”. JLR also confirmed that the stoppage has nothing to do with Coronavirus.

The spokesperson described an “external environment [that] remains challenging for our industry”. In response, “the company is taking decisive actions to achieve the necessary operational efficiencies”.

Jaguar Land Rover midlands production paused

JLR reaffirmed that investment is ongoing in the production facilities, alluding to ramping up for production of the all-electric next-generation XJ, plus the next-generation Range Rover:

“Jaguar Land Rover is continuing to invest heavily in its UK manufacturing operations with significant investment recently committed to Castle Bromwich for production of the new all-electric Jaguar XJ, and Solihull, which will build the next generation of Range Rover.”

HM The Queen and Dr Ralf Speth

Jaguar Land Rover boss Sir Ralf Speth to retire

Sir Ralf Speth

Sir Ralf Speth, charismatic CEO of Britain’s biggest car company, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is to retire when his current contract comes to an end in September.

The former BMW executive, who has overseen a turnaround in fortunes for JLR, will become non-executive vice chairman of the firm.

He will also remain on the board of JLR owner Tata Sons.

A replacement for Sir Ralf has not yet been announced. Tata Motors said in a statement that a search committee has been formed ‘to identify a suitable successor in the coming months’.

‘Honoured’

HM The Queen and Dr Ralf Speth

In a statement, Sir Ralf said he was “very honoured to have worked with so many dedicated and creative people, both inside and outside of JLR.

“We have elevated Jaguar and Land Rover. We offer our customers multi-award-winning products and will continue to surprise with the best pipeline of new, innovative products we have ever had.”

Currently executive director and CEO, Sir Ralf Speth took over JLR in February 2010, when Ford sold JLR to Tata.   

He joined the Ford Premier Automotive Group in 2007 as production and product planning director.

Sir Ralf, a 64-year old German born in Bavaria, began his career at BMW in 1980, where he worked for two decades.

He was made a Sir in 2019, for services to the British automotive industry. He also has a doctorate from the University of Warwick. 

JLR Pivi Pro in the new Land Rover Defender

Jaguar Land Rover debuts new Pivi Pro infotainment at CES 2020

JLR Pivi Pro in the new Land Rover Defender

Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new infotainment system called Pivi Pro that makes its hand-on debut at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.

Launching on the new Land Rover Defender, Pivi Pro will gradually replace InControl in all Jaguar and Land Rover models.

It is described as having “industry-leading design and shares electronic hardware with the latest smartphones”.

JLR Pivi Pro in the new Land Rover Defender

The highlight feature at CES 2020 is the world’s first dual-modem, dual-eSim in-car tech, for enhanced connectivity.

One eSim and modem is dedicated to the new Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) tech. The system can download updates and then, by a process called ‘dual banking’, seamlessly switch to the updated software without delay – without having to visit a JLR retailer.

The other eSim and modem is dedicated to music streaming and apps. Both are powered by two Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Am automotive platforms, each with a Snapdragon X12 modem.

Having dual modems allows Pivi Pro to roam multiple cellular networks in different regions, avoiding coverage blackspots.

Pivi Pro even has its own battery, so the system doesn’t need to ‘start up’. It is ready, for example, to accept sat nav inputs as soon as the driver steps into the vehicle.

Smartphone-like

JLR Pivi Pro in the new Land Rover Defender

The Defender’s Pivi Pro system is the first car from JLR to use a domain controller. Numerous safety and driver convenience functions are built on top of the BlackBerry QNX Hypervisor platform, “consolidating more systems onto fewer ECUs”.

The system is ultra-fast and responsive, giving a smartphone-like operating system via a crisp TFT digital display (which uses 4K graphics).

For security, safety and reliability, JLR has isolated safety-critical systems from non-safety critical ones.

Cloud clout

New 2020 Land Rover Defender interior

A clever feature is integration of CloudCar’s latest connectivity tech, helping make Pivi Pro super-easy to use.

Smartphone QR codes can be displayed on the infotainment screen, which allow users to connect their music streaming accounts such as Spotify, TuneIn and Deezer.

They are automatically added to the cloud, and the driver’s digital files are then transferred to the Pivi Pro system. It means owners can access their accounts and stream music even if they don’t have their smartphone with them.

Automatic updates are carried out, via the SOTA system. And owners can also take their ‘digital profile’ with them to other JLR cars – so they instantly get the same layout and experience.

In the UK, it will even allow new Defender owners to pay for parking through the Pivi Pro system: RingGo is the first network to be signed up.

Why Pivi Pro?

JLR Pivi Pro in the new Land Rover Defender

Motoring Research spoke to Defender vehicle engineering manager Mark Wilson. “Pivi Pro is not an evolution of InControl,” he told us. 

“It is an all-new system: developing it has been a massive undertaking. It is future-proofed and allows us to develop and add features over the air: we can also remotely fix bugs so customers don’t have to visit a dealer.”

The dual banking system is “first to market and means we can make real-time updates, then switch systems via the digital ‘twin’ in the cloud.”

But why Pivi Pro – does it stand for anything? No, said Wilson. “It’s not an acronym: we needed something catchy, and the name needed to be registered in multiple countries. 

“That’s how the name Pivi Pro came about.”

Jaguar I-Pace is the new Nurburgring eTaxi

Jaguar Nurburgring taxi

The all-electric I-Pace is to be put to work at one of the most formidable automotive proving grounds as Jaguar’s new race eTaxi experience car.

Far from leaving the Nurburgring behind in the development phase of its life, the I-Pace is back at the ‘Green Hell’. It’ll be used to ferry punters around the ‘Ring at near-race pace by expert drivers.

Jaguar Nurburgring taxi

Jaguar’s rapport with the German circuit is strong: it holds the four-door lap record, with a 7-minute 23-second time, set by the XE SV Project 8. P8s were also used for the Race Taxi experience last year. Though a quick car, we doubt the 400hp I-Pace eTaxi will be gnashing at the Project 8’s heels just yet. 

The Porsche Taycan recently set an all-electric production car record of 7-minutes 42-seconds, as a demonstration of the repeatability of its performance. Though the Jag is unlikely to beat that either, you don’t have to break records to prove endurance. The I-Pace will have its work cut out, regardless of whether the stopwatch is running. Putting the I-Pace to work at the Nurburgring with paying customers is an impressive vote of confidence.

Jaguar Nurburgring taxi

Of course, Jaguar’s no stranger to the abuse of battery-powered vehicles. The racing I-Pace eTrophy is a one-make series for track-only variants of the electric SUV, while Jag is also a big name on the Formula E grid.

If you want to see how the I-Pace handles the Nurburgring, you can book a ride for yourself. They’re available up until the end of November, and are available to book now.

Jaguar Land Rover automatic door is an ‘invisible valet’

Jaguar Land Rover automatic door

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled a mobility door prototype that uses motion sensors and keyless technology to open automatically as the driver approaches.

The tech, which JLR likens to an ‘invisible valet’, is designed for disabled people for whom a car is their main form of transport. It also has benefits for those carrying child seats or large items, as the driver no longer has to free a hand to open the door.

Once inside, occupants can close the door courtesy of an overhead button – similar to the system used in a Rolls-Royce. Radar sensors are fitted to ensure the door doesn’t open into objects, while the doors can be programmed to lock as you walk away.

Former Royal Marine and gold medal-winning Invictus athlete, Commando Mark Ormrod, is trialling the system for JLR. He said the technology could change the lives of motorists with mobility problems.

He commented: “This innovative Jaguar Land Rover technology would be such a benefit to me and has real power to change lives for those who face problems getting in and out of the car.

“Opening and closing the car door may seem like such an insignificant task to many people but sometimes it’s the small, everyday obstacles which people take for granted that are most frustrating to overcome for those living with disabilities.”

Technology for all

Range Rover Sport automatic door

The system was tested on a rig for six months before being fitted to a Range Rover Sport. Far from restricting the technology to disabled groups, JLR sees the automatic doors as being relevant to all future vehicles.

Xu Zhou, deep learning technical research manager at JLR, said: “The mobility door is an exciting piece of technology that offers a real-world value to our customers. There’s also something very welcoming about the door opening on your approach – something we think will be greatly valued as we become more familiar with shared mobility.”

Read more:

JLR Virtual Eye autonomous test pod

Jaguar Land Rover is testing new self-driving vehicles with EYES

JLR Virtual Eye autonomous test pod

No, you’re not watching Disney Pixar’s Cars. Jaguar Land Rover really is putting eyes on cars, albeit for the purposes of research into pedestrian trust of autonomous cars.

You won’t be seeing Range Rovers with big eyes on the windscreen anytime soon, though. The “virtual eyes” are only being fitted to self-driving pod research vehicles… for now.

It may sound quite amusing but it’s a chuckle-worthy means to a rather serious end – developing the software and modifying the ‘behaviour’ of autonomous cars so they’re better prepared to deal with the unpredictable, very human-infested world of commuting.

The project is the baby of a team of cognitive psychologists, hired by Jaguar Land Rover to find out more about how vehicle behaviour affects people’s confidence in new technologies. The autonomous pods are to drive around makeshift streets in Coventry while the behaviour of pedestrians is analysed.

This is where the ‘eyes’ come in, as the pods make ‘eye contact’ with nearby pedestrians on their travels. That, in theory, should put that passer-by at ease: making eye contact with the ‘eyes’ acknowledges they’ve been recognised by the car.

Trust levels are recorded in instances with and without use of the ‘eyes’, presumably to result in pedestrians trusting in the car that’s ‘seen’ them more. 

JLR is carrying out the study in response to previous studies which have suggested that nearly two in three pedestrians and cyclists say they’d feel less safe sharing the streets with self-driving cars.

“It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road. Understanding how this translates in tomorrow’s more automated world is important” said Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover.

“We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle’s intentions or whether simply letting a pedestrian know it has been recognised is enough to improve confidence.”

Read more: 

Silverstone classic racers

Jaguar Land Rover is not going to buy Silverstone

Silverstone classic racersJaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it has ended negotiations to buy the Silverstone circuit from the British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC).

The two organisations have been in discussions since spring 2016 about a deal that would see JLR either buy or lease the racetrack, which is home to the British Grand Prix.

But they have now ended, reports Reuters, quoting a spokesperson from Jaguar Land Rover.

2016 Silverstone Classic: in pictures

Jaguar Land Rover to sue Chinese copycat ‘Evoque’ manufacturer

JLR rejects driverless cars label

“Jaguar Land Rover has ended discussions with the British Racing Drivers’ Club for the foreseeable future and is not proceeding with any plans to either lease or purchase Silverstone at this time.”

JLR was said to have been planning to develop a heritage centre at Silverstone, to house some of its extensive classic car collection. Dynamic driving events would also have been an option, similar to those run by Porsche at its own Silverstone experience centre.

Insiders previously suggested it was this Porsche facility that was one of the sticking points in agreeing any deal. The German sports car maker’s contract apparently states no other manufacturer could use the circuit for more than 45 days a year.

The collapse in the JLR deal will be a blow for the BRDC. Silverstone is in need of further investment and the track’s losses are believed to be mounting.

JLR Driving Towards Autonomy

Jaguar Land Rover rejects driverless cars label

JLR Driving Towards AutonomyJaguar Land Rover is developing autonomous car technology – but is not planning to use the ‘driverless cars’ description because the firm is not “looking at simply replacing the driver”.

Instead, says group strategy director Adrian Hallmark, its autonomous technologies will “give the driver more, not less. Future technologies will assist and enhance the driver” and help keen drivers just as much as uninterested ones.

> More car news on Motoring Research

“There is a big difference between an autonomous car and a driverless car,” said Hallmark. “We are doing both but we have no plans to replace the driver. We prefer to call it driver-focused autonomous technology rather than driverless technology.”

Because the autonomous tech will be constantly working in the background, the intelligent systems will be able to support the driver even when they’re in control, primed to help out in an emergency – a bit like stability control systems do today. An example of this is a connected car warning of a hazard around the next corner, making fast driving on twisting roads safer.

Autonomous off-roader

JLR will also take autonomous technology off-road, bolstering the 4×4 credentials of Land Rover. If drivers start to accept autonomous technologies, “they would not want this support to stop just because they have turned off the road,” says Hallmark.

If you use autonomous lane-keeping on a motorway, you should be able to use it for your entire journey, “even if this is via a rough track or gravel road.” JLR wants to make the self-driving car “viable in the widest range of real life on- and off-road driving environments and weather conditions”.

To assist in this, Jaguar Land Rover will begin real-world testing of autonomous technology on public UK roads to support its work at closed test tracks and off-road courses. This research and development work will again concentrate on the driver just as much as the technology.

“Our research and development will ensure drivers trust autonomous,” says Hallmark. The firm aims to develop autonomous cars that “are intuitive and mirror how the driver would react to a situation”.

JLR Over the Horizon warnings

Watch how JLR will use connected car tech

If cars can talk to one another, we’ll be safer and far less stressed, says Jaguar Land Rover