JLR developing autonomous cars capable of off-road driving in any weather condition


Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing autonomous cars capable of all-terrain, off-road driving in any weather condition, as part of a 30-month £3.7m (US$4.9m) collaborative project to support the delivery of self-driving vehicles in the UK.

Jointly funded by government and industry, and supported by the country’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, the CORTEX project brings together leading technology and automotive expertise as well as academia to deliver highly-capable self-driving vehicles that can achieve SAE Level 4 and 5 off-road automation. The world-first project will take self-driving cars off-road, ensuring they are fully capable in any weather condition: dirt, rain, ice, snow or fog.

As part of the project, a ‘5D’ technique combining acoustic, video, radar and light detection and distance sensing (lidar) data live in real time is being engineered. Access to this combined data improves the vehicle’s awareness of the environment its car is in. Machine-learning enables the self-driving car to behave in an increasingly sophisticated way, allowing it to handle any weather condition and on any terrain.

JLR is the UK’s largest auto maker, and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium all-wheel-drive vehicles. The company is currently developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of the level of automation, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience.

Announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Funding in March, the CORTEX project forms part of the company’s vision to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

CORTEX will develop the all-terrain automated technology through algorithm development, sensor optimization, and physical testing on off-road tracks in the UK. The University of Birmingham, with its world-leading research in radar and sensing systems for autonomous platforms, and Cambridge-based machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) software developer Myrtle AI are also part of the project consortium.

“It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers,” explained Chris Holmes, connected and autonomous vehicle research manager at Jaguar.

“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry, and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realize this vision in the near future.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).