Land Rover is developing its new Defender on a remote control system that would allow driving at low speeds from outside the car.
The system is intended for off-road use, enabling owners to more accurately negotiate barriers and narrow places than if they were inside the car. The British company thinks that motorists will have an easier time to clear narrow places and barriers on the path from outside the car than from behind the steering wheel.
The technology would be an expansion of the Defender's 3D Scout scheme, providing a virtual picture of the vehicle from a distance and requiring the car's wearable Activity Key to confirm that the driver is in the vicinity and control of the vehicle.
It would have been expensive and complicated to add this feature to the just-revealed Defender at the outset, but the second-generation model has been developed with cutting-edge technology in mind from the start. Work is ongoing in the R&D department of Land Rover to make it a reality.
Controlling a prototype with a remote device (which is supposed to be either a key fob or a smartphone) is just half the fight. Land Rover requires to slash its way through a bureaucratic jungle before the product can be launched, and its density will differ from market to market. For example, it needs to determine how close the driver has to be to the car for the system to work, what speed to cap it, and make sure there is a safe, quick way to turn it off in case something goes wrong.
It's difficult to jump through the legal hoops but it's not impossible. Similar technology on the 5 and 7 series of BMW enables owners to park their cars in a tight spot using only the key fob. And Tesla is about to add its Smart Summon feature to its software release version 10.0.
(Cover photo by Driven.co.nz)