In 2013, Jaguar Land Rover announced it was opening an R & D facility in Portland Oregon. Now they are adding 50 new engineers to the payroll and engaging with tech start ups to foster innovation in the technology features of its automobiles.
Land Rover has always been innovative in its use of technology, from the early adoption of driving features such as ABS, Traction Control, Hill Descent Control, Active Cornering Enhancement and Terrain Response, to more advanced features still in development such as "invisible" bonnet and door pillars and safety features such as the pedestrian airbags on the Discovery Sport models. Now they are beginning to focus and refine the information side of their vehicles' technology.
The launch of the "Innovation Incubator" is designed to attract ideas for on board "infotainment" features from tech start up firms and engineering schools. Individuals or companies that have good ideas, but need JLR's help to implement them, can present the ideas in a "shark tank" style, and company execs will be able to pick and choose from the most promising prospects. Land Rover expects to work with up to 120 start up firms over the next decade.
JLR's new "InControl Touch Pro," infotainment and connected car technology platform employs a 60 gigabyte solid state hard drive located in the vehicle, to store and distribute on board information, as well as information input through occupants' smart devices. One new start up being currently employed under the incubator scheme is developing software to allow for photos and videos taken by occupants to automatically be shared on social media. According to JLR sources, " the system is so sophisticated... (it) won't just tell you the weather at your destination - it will allow you to send your estimated time of arrival to a friend. The car will then automatically keep your contact up-to-date with your progress via SMS should traffic conditions change and delay your journey. Once you get to within 200 meters of your destination, Approach Mode will share 360 degree street-level view imagery to help you navigate at the end of your journey - and the car will even transfer your route to your smartphone if you are completing your journey by foot or public transport."
The JLR Facility in Portland opened in 2014 and is the first JLR product development center located outside of the UK. It currently employs 30 engineers and the new additions will bring that number to 80. Portland has a rapidly growing tech sector and many other tech companies are making the move there as well. Land Rover does also operate two testing facilities in the United States, its hot weather testing center in Phoenix, Arizona and a cold weather test facility in International Falls, Minnesota.
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