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Land Rover shows digitally transparent hood on Discovery Concept SUV

Cameras allow driver to peer through the front and underside of the vehicle to look for obstacles.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 9, 2014 10:30AM

Automakers continue to find new and innovative ways to integrate camera technology into cars to make driving easier and safer. Now Land Rover's Discovery Concept SUV is taking automotive image processing to new heights -- or rather, new lows.


The vehicle, which will debut at next week's New York International Auto Show, features what Land Rover calls "Transparent Bonnet virtual imaging technology" to enhance driver visibility in tight spaces and while traveling the type of off-road terrain that helped the Discovery (named LR4 in the U.S.) earn its reputation for toughness. Cameras placed under and in front of the vehicle are combined with image processing to send a virtual see-through view to a full-width head-up display in the lower portion of the windshield.

Land Rover's Transparent Bonnet technology not only allows the driver to view otherwise invisible obstructions underneath and directly front of the vehicle for safety reasons, but also the angle and position of the front wheels and how they make contact with the terrain or asphalt.


Land Rover hinted that it could also be the first step in autonomous off-roading.

“As our vehicles become more capable and offer increasing autonomy off-road, we will ensure the driver has the confidence to progress over any terrain,” Dr. Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology for Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement. “We are developing new technologies including the Transparent Bonnet to give drivers an augmented view of reality to help them tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of urban parking.”


This is just the latest example of how cameras are becoming more and more a part of the driving experience. Thanks to a recent NHTSA mandate, all cars will have standard rearview cameras starting in 2018, and autonomous cars will heavily rely on imaging technologies to keep vehicles moving safely down the road. PSA Peugeot Citroen is also experimenting with on-board cameras that can recognize drivers' facial expressions so that cars will be able to adjust to the driver's emotional state.


The Transparent Bonnet will debut with a suite of new technologies on the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept. Land Rover hasn’t said when and if the feature will see production, just that "from the city to the sand dunes … new, driver-assisting technology will enable safer, smarter and more enjoyable driving in the SUVs of tomorrow.”

But a see-through hood on a large vehicle like a Land Rover can be useful in the real world, whether that means rock crawling or squeezing into a tight parking space at the country club.

[Source: Jaguar Land Rover]
Apr 10, 2014 2:21AM
While these vehicles are popular because they are trendy, Consumer Reports continues to rate them as one of the worst mechanically, and in needing the most repairs. Technology's nice, but not if it's in the shop, where you can't use it!
Apr 10, 2014 3:16AM
WOW! I wheel my Jeep all over the place off road and I don't need "see through" fenders to keep from hitting anything. Maybe they just need "idiot driver" detectors.
Apr 10, 2014 2:40AM
I think they should focus on getting rid of the gadgets and making a reliable vehicle. Land Rovers pop head gaskets like candy.
Apr 10, 2014 4:10AM

what you people dont realize is that todays modern Range Rovers/Land Rovers are not for the masses. They are luxury toys for the rich. They are for people who dont care about repairs. They buy a new one after a year or when the warranty is up. They dont care who-why-what-the engine is made of, they care who might see them driving up to the valet. Do you really think these Rovers get enough off road time? Doubt it. They install cameras, electronics, beeps, bloops, blinkers, whatever just to have "toy features" to sell to their customers.


These are toys for the rich.

Apr 10, 2014 4:48AM
Great, now when I run over the neighbors cat I get to see it.  (sarcasm)
Apr 10, 2014 2:12AM
Hope it has a self-cleaning feature.
Apr 10, 2014 4:08AM
screw the stupid transparent hood. These guys will spend countless amount of money on everything but, fuel efficient trucks or SUV's. Make fuel efficient vehicles you TOOLS. 
Apr 10, 2014 3:59AM
Taking the human out of the equation is never a good thing!
Apr 10, 2014 4:00AM

Another stupid idea brought to you by Idgits...Who cares?

Apr 10, 2014 5:05AM
Lets see, I guess we need ANOTHER distraction on the road.  Forget texting, talking on the phone, reading the paper/book, putting on make-up, shaving.....lets make sure we can now concentrate on looking at obstacles on the road while looking thru our see thru hood.     HONK, BEEP,   hey buddy keep your eyes on the road, you nearly hit me.    Great idea  (rolling eyes)
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