Do you remember watching that scene in the 1997 blockbuster James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies where James Bond, in an attempt to escape the evil machine gun-toting, shotgun-loving henchmen of media mogul Elliot Carver uses his Ericsson smartphone to remotely control his BMW (00)7-series sedan from the back seat, avoiding rocket launchers and more in the process?
At the time, it’s likely you viewed it as we did: a fun action-packed sequence that bore little resemblance to the real world.
Yet as has happened in the past with other James Bond gadgets, it appears the make-believe world of Hollywood fantasy and the world of automotive technology have collided again, with a car that you drive from your smartphone.
Enter Jaguar Land Rover, which has just revealed a prototype Range Rover Sport to the world which can not only execute a 180 degree three-point turn on its own, but can be driven from a smartphone located outside the vehicle.
As the video above details, the system hasn’t been designed for the high-risk world of international espionage, but rather for practical use in the real world, both on and off the road.
Operating at a speeds of up to 4 mph, the system’s killer application is for extreme off-roading, where vehicle position is key to safely making it over many obstacles only a true off-road vehicle could tackle.
The idea is pretty simple: when the driver gets to a point along a trail where the going gets tough and they can no-longer see clearly what to do, they simply put the car in park, get out, and then continue to drive the car from their smartphone from outside the vehicle.
This allows the driver to get a full view of what lies directly beneath and around the luxury off-roader, guiding it inch by inch over the obstacle in question. Best suited to heavy rocky areas than waterlogged mud holes, the system is an innovative and unusual application of autonomous driving technology, but for those of us who prefer their off-road experiences to be a little more tactile — this author included — this latest technology takes drivers one further step away from feeling and responding to each rock, boulder and rut, and eliminates the traditional lean out-the-window stance that many drivers adopt when going off-road.
If driving your car remotely off road doesn’t sound like your particular cup of tea however, the technology does have another, far more useful application, especially if you’re someone who regularly finds themselves boxed in by other drivers in tight parking spaces.
That’s because Land Rover Jaguar’s technology can also be used to help the remote-control Range Rover Sport back itself out of a tight parking space, eliminating the door scratches and uncomfortable squeezes many drivers will be familiar with if they park in a busy and tight parking garage.
The final trick of this multi-faceted autonomous Range Rover Sport is its ability to execute a 180-degree turn, known in the UK as the dreaded three-point turn that has caused many a learner driver nightmares ahead of a driving test.
Using sensors built into the car, the autonomous vehicle can execute the perfect turn, taking over control of gear selection, accelerator, brakes and steering wheel to orient itself safely in the opposite direction with hitting a single curb.
Like other autonomous driving technologies we’ve seen of late, Jaguar Land Rover’s semi-autonomous Range Rover Sport isn’t intended to take over the arduous task of daily driving, but instead is designed to ensure that it — and its passengers — stay safe at all times.
It’s also great for an upcoming halloween trick. Just don’t blame us if a local police officer tickets you for driving without being in the car, or if your car ends up jumping from a multi-story parking lot, just as Bond’s car did in that 1997 flick.
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