WONDER TECH

Land Rover working on invisible trailer technology

  • The Land Rover prototype basically uses camera feeds to create a composite video, which will play in the vehicle's rear-view mirror, making the trailer 'invisible' | AFP
  • The Land Rover prototype basically uses camera feeds to create a composite video, which will play in the vehicle's rear-view mirror, making the trailer 'invisible' | AFP
  • The Land Rover prototype basically uses camera feeds to create a composite video, which will play in the vehicle's rear-view mirror, making the trailer 'invisible' | AFP
  • "Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter what its size or shape," said Dr Wolfgang Epple, of Jaguar Land Rover.

Some may accuse the company of horsing around with technology, but the benefits of towing a virtually invisible trailer are clear to see, especially for those who follow equestrian or maritime pursuits.

Anyone that uses their car for pulling a trailer will tell you that they live in constant fear of accidentally backing it into an obscured post or misjudging an overtaking maneuver thanks to the huge blind spot a caravan or horsebox creates in wing- and rear-view mirrors.

But what if the trailer was completely see-through like Wonder Woman's plane? It may sound like something out of a comic book but it's a concept that Land Rover is actively developing, and the prototype ‘Transparent Trailer' system will be demonstrated to the public for the first time this week at the Burghley Horse Trials in England.

The system uses a Range Rover's existing external camera array that provides a 360-degree view when not coupled to a trailer, but combines the image feed with that from a further wireless camera that attaches to a trailer. The resulting composite video plays in the vehicle's rear-view mirror making the trailer 'invisible'.

"When you are overtaking it is instinctive to check your mirrors, but if you are towing your vision is often restricted with large blind spots. Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter what its size or shape," explained Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover.

Land Rover's research doesn't stop at making towing a trailer safer for the driver, it is also actively examining how to keep the load itself safe via a complementary trailer monitoring system.

Cargo Sense uses an in-trailer camera and pressure pads to help a driver load the trailer evenly with weight properly dispersed for stability but will sound the alarm if something starts moving around inside the trailer while the vehicle is in motion. If the cargo is horses, the movement will trigger the camera, showing the passenger but not the driver a live feed on the car's infotainment screen. The system also acts as a remote security feature as the footage or changes in pressure can be checked via a smartphone.

Dr Epple added: "Many of our customers tow valuable cargoes for business and pleasure, so we are researching a range of technologies that would enhance the towing experience and make it safer — for the driver and even their horses."

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