European-based caravan owners have known for decades that if you’re looking for a rugged and reliable tow car for your travel trailer then nothing can match the 21st century descendants of the iconic Maurice Wilks Land Rover. Today, Solihull’s most famous export contains a bevy of electronic gadgets to aid on-road and off-road driving and the latest addition, announced today by the boffins at Land Rover, is the company’s astonishing transparent bonnet virtual imaging concept that -- with a small dose of electronic wizardry -- provides the driver with a digital rendering of upcoming terrain that makes the front of the Land Rover 'virtually' invisible.
This masterful piece of technological magic -- clearly the automotive equivalent of J.K. Rowling’s bedazzling hex -- is achieved via cameras located in the vehicle's grille which feed video data to a Head-Up Display (HUD), “effectively creating a 'see-through' view of the terrain through the bonnet and engine bay,” according to Land Rover. The technology, dubbed Transparent Bonnet by the off-road R&D team at Land Rover, enables a driver climbing a steep incline or manoeuvring in a confined space to see an augmented reality view that captures not only the terrain in front of the car but also the angle and position of the front wheels.
"As our vehicles become more capable and autonomous off-road, we will ensure the driver has the confidence to allow the car to continue to progress, over any terrain. We are developing new technologies including the Transparent Bonnet to give drivers an augmented view of reality to help them tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of an urban car park," said Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover.
An even bigger challenge for Land Rover will be figuring out how to keep those cameras free of mud, snow and other detritus once this technological marvel is placed in the hands of hardcore off-roaders.