Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) recently sent out its self-driving Range Rover to tackle what it says is “one of the U.K.’s most challenging road layouts,” and we’re delighted to report that it came back in one piece.
JLR’s driverless vehicle — a modified Range Rover Sport — has been in development for several years, and its first trials on public roads took place in 2017. Confident of the technology’s ability to deal with busy and complex road layouts, JLR has just tested its autonomous SUV on the beltway around Coventry City, home to the automaker’s headquarters.
“The Coventry Ring Road is known for its complicated slip roads and exits,” said Mark Cund, JLR’s manager of autonomous vehicle research.
He added that the road system “makes for very challenging conditions, especially when under pressure in the rush hour,” but said he looked forward to the day when everyone can experience driverless cars that will “turn a potentially very stressful situation into a completely stress-free one.”
A video (above) of the recent outing shows JLR’s autonomous Range Rover changing lanes, merging with traffic, and exiting junctions while keeping to the 40 mph speed limit. A couple of engineers inside the vehicle monitored the ride, ensuring the technology performed as it should.
The autonomous Range Rover Sport comes with all the gear that you’d expect to see on such a vehicle, namely Lidar sensors, cameras, and GPS technology.
The car company performed the demonstration as part of U.K. Autodrive, a $26 million government-funded project geared toward the development of autonomous vehicles.
JLR is of course one of many automakers and technology firms around the world that’s working on the development of vehicles that can operate without any human input. Alphabet-owned Waymo — the autonomous-car project once under the guidance of Google — was one of the first to invest heavily in the technology, and earlier this week announced it’d reached 10 million miles of testing on public roads since its first drive in 2009.
The Range Rover’s comfortable navigation of Coventry’s beltway is certainly to be commended, but surely the only time we can be truly satisfied that a driverless car is ready for prime time is when it’s able to make sense of, and successfully deal with, Swindon’s notoriously complicated Magic Roundabout. And yes, that’s the road junction’s real name.