Jaguar Land Rover, a global automotive brand headquartered in the United Kingdom, is known for its high-end, luxury cars and off-road vehicles. Owned by India-based Tata Motors, the company has been making substantial headway in the field of car safety technology. In a recent press release, JLR introduced the world to the incredibly innovative 360-degree Virtual Urban Windscreen system, which uses “transparent” pillars to effectively eliminate blind spots. This, together with the video game-inspired “ghost car” navigation technology, ensures greater road safety.
The 360-degree windscreen, exhibited on an XJ sedan, is primarily based on the Transparent Pillar System that in turn enables the driver to see right through the car’s pillars and posts. The system utilizes cameras and specialized display screens, implanted into the A, B and C-pillars, to make parts of the car virtually disappear. It attempts to maximize the driver’s visibility, by reducing the presence of blind spots. The four transparent pillars – two in the front and the other two at the back – display any obstacle present outside the car, by outlining it with a red halo of sorts. Speaking about the project, the head of Jaguar Land Rover’s Research and Technology department, Dr. Wolfgang Epple said:
Our ultimate aim is to reduce road accidents and enhance the urban driving experience. The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time. If we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments.
Upon receiving important visual data, the high-resolution windscreen lights up with the appropriate instructions. For instance, while driving past a place of interest, the screen displays a floating box to convey the necessary information to the driver, such as a restaurant’s rating, the size of a neighboring parking space and so on. The system uses advanced heads-up display technology to keep the driver’s eyes focused on the road, thus ensuring greater safety. JLR’s press release mentioned:
The full potential for the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would be delivered by connecting the virtual windscreen to the Cloud. By connecting the car to roadside infrastructure and businesses in the urban landscape, the Virtual Urban Windscreen could present information ranging from petrol station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won’t have to look for this information themselves.
Additionally, JLR’s research includes the incredible, video game-inspired “Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation” system. In case of contemporary navigation systems, listening to the information or even looking at the map on the car’s dashboard actually increases the driver’s level of distraction. Instead, with the help of modern HUD technology, the “ghost car” system displays a blue, spectral car on the windscreen. All that the driver has to do is follow the ‘ghost car’ around, which according to the company, is a far more logical and intuitive way of receiving navigation instructions than having to listen to a robotic voice parrot the information. Dr Epple said:
Driving on city streets can be a stressful experience, but imagine being able to drive across town without having to look at road signs, or be distracted trying to locate a parking space as you drive …We want to present all of this information on a Heads-Up Display in the driver’s eye-line, so the driver doesn’t have to seek it out for themselves and take their eyes off the road ahead.
The project is still at its initial stages, but rest assured, such fancy technologies will come with a pretty hefty price tag.