Jaguar Land Rovers Will Sport Safety Software

Jaguar Land Rover has been working on some new tricks for its latest models, taking safety features to a luxury level by finding ways to equip newer models with software that will sense and alert drivers not only of dangerous situations on the road, but of silly blunders that might just ruin the driver’s day.

jag blablaFor example, the British luxury brand is currently working on a new technology called Overhead Clearance Assist, a specialized software for absent-minded drivers that might have forgotten that they have a kayak or bike on their roof rack and are now attempting to enter a parking garage or drive beneath a low-handing branch.

German supplier Bosch collaborated with Jaguar Land Rover to develop OCA, and they already have a running prototype at their UK proving grounds in Gaydon. Those who have sampled the new feature have appreciated its simplicity and practicality. The software repurposes hardware that JLR models are already equipped with, tidily adding functionality without adding cost or weight or taking up space.

This is done by using the stereo camera that’s mounted top, dead center on the windshield. The stereo camera is usually meant for lane-departure-warning purposes as well as emergency auto brake and road-sign-recognition; in order to make sure that a vehicle has substantial overhead clearance, the camera simply scans the road about 100 feetĀ in front of the vehicle for any possible obstructions. The system can then measure how tall the potential obstructions are and compare that to the vehicle’s height, warning the driver if necessary.

As the technology currently stands, Overhead Clearance Assist requires that the driver know the height of his or her vehicle and input that number into the central infotainment touchscreen. That means the owner must also remember to use and set up the system in the first place, implying a level of being on top of it that is generally enough to remember not to drive under short things with something strapped onto the top of your car. Once the system is more automated, it may be able to help the more absent-minded of us, who would not only forget not to drive into a tunnel with a kayak strapped to the top of our car but also would forget to set up the overhead clearance assist feature.

chimchiPerhaps the most useful setting for this feature is actually in an off-roading experience. OCA can recognize low-hanging branches and overhead rocky outcroppings an compare them to the height of your car, alerting you if you may need to change directions. While it remains an independent function, it’s likely to become a common addition to sensor-based features in luxury cars with other high-tech safety features. OCA can easily be tied onto a vehicle’s auto-brake and lane-changing systems. Considering some Land Rovers are equipped with variable-height air suspensions, the system could potentially automatically lower the chassis to clear objects if it’s a close call. That kind of technology would be at the level of smart car originally only inhabited by Inspector Gadget’s car.

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