On Thursday, Jaguar Land Rover fired its most powerful shot yet into the realm of autonomous vehicles: a self-driving Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
The vehicle, according to Autocar and Top Gear alike, is capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, which means it can theoretically handle itself in just about every conceivable driving scenario within a selected environment—though it still will have a human behind the wheel to observe and stand guard to seize control if the computers go awry. The self-driving Range Rover Sport is reportedly able to read and reach to traffic lights and negotiate conventional intersections and roundabouts alike...along with, presumably, every other capability it would need to make its way around town.
The self-driving Range Rover is scheduled to be unleashed at a testing facility in Nuneaton, Great Britain on Thursday, alongside autonomous tech from the likes of Ford and JLR parent Tata Motors, according to Autocar. It's part of the UK Autodrive project, a £20 million (roughly $25 million) public-private joint venture looking to bring autonomous vehicles to British motorways.
But it likely won't be restrained to closed tracks for very long. According to Top Gear, JLR plans to let its self-driving Rangie roam along public highways in the U.K. before 2017 runs out.
While not as big a name in the field as the likes of Waymo, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz, JLR is no stranger to the world of self-driving cars and SUVs. Last year, the company announced plans to build a fleet of self-driving research vehicles, as well as develop tech that would allow Land Rovers to drive themselves off-road. But if this Range Rover test car is truly capable of Level 4 autonomy, it would put Land Rover at the forefront of the autonomous car revolution...at least, until the next big thing in self-driving cars comes along.
Note: Oddly enough, Jaguar Land Rover didn't seem to have any information about the test of its advanced self-driving vehicle on its media website, so we were forced to grab the above image of the autonomous Range Rover from a separate story about engineer Dr. Amy Rimmer winning an award. Hence the presence of a bespectacled woman in the picture.