Land Rover creates 'ghost car' for drivers to follow

It is also working on a virtual windscreen that gives drivers a 360-degree view of the roadway

Land Rover urban ghost windscreen
Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed two new research projects it's working on: a 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen to give a driver a 360-degree view outside the car and a ghost car navigation aid that projects a virtual vehicle ahead of you to follow.

The ghost car is a navigation aid for busy urban roads and uses heads-up display technology to provide information to keep the driver's eyes on the road and reduce distraction, Range Rover said in a statement.

"Driving on city streets can be a stressful experience, but imagine being able to drive across town without having to look at road signs, or be distracted trying to locate a parking space as you drive by," Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology at Jaguar Land Rover, said.

The British carmaker is also working on virtual transparent roof pillars that would provide a driver with a 360-degree view of whatever is around the vehicle uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof.

Land Rover urbanwindscreen invisible apillars Jaguar Land Rover

Transparent roof pillars offer a driver an unobstructed view. Notice how objects, including pedestrians, are visable "through" the left roof pillar.

The technology works by embedding a display screen in the surface of each roof pillar inside the car. The display screens take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in blind spots created by the pillars.

Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car -- and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high-quality Heads-Up display, the movement of others on the road could be highlighted with an on-screen halo moving across the car's virtual windscreen.

When the driver indicates plans to change direction, move their head to look over their shoulder during a passing maneuver, or as the vehicle approaches a junction, the system would automatically make the left or right-hand side pillars transparent.

Jaguar Land Rover revealed a similar virtual display at the International Auto Show in New York earlier this year.

The "Transparent Hood," as Land Rover called it, was used in a concept Land Rover and offered the driver a view of the roadway beneath and directly in front of the hood. The image was created through the use of real-time camera images projected onto a full width heads up display at the bottom of the windshield.

The concept is literally like looking through the engine compartment at the ground; Land Rover said the technology was designed as an aid in off-road driving and tight spaces.

"The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time," Epple said. "If we can keep the driver's eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments."

Land Rover said the full potential of the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would be realized once its moved to the cloud, offering an interface with roadside infrastructure and businesses in the urban landscape. The Virtual Urban Windscreen could present information ranging from gas station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won't have to look for that information themselves.

"The connected car could also enhance navigation by advising the driver to turn left or right at more visible landmarks, such as pubs or shops, rather than just road signs or street names," Land Rover said.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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