Teasing a tomorrow full of futuristic in-car technologies, Land Rover’s new Discovery concept was just revealed in New York.
The company says that it plans to expand its Discovery brand and is previewing some of what that will look like in the concept shown here. It offers flexible seating, forward-thinking features and a glimpse of styling to come. For example, the concept uses foldable bucket seats that can act as a row or independently, sliding forward and backward on rails. They can also fold flat to serve as a table surface, allowing configurations to accommodate between four and seven passengers. Land Rover promises that the concept is able to seat seven adults comfortably. Even for a big SUV, that’s a bold claim.
In keeping with the vehicle’s pragmatic pretentions, the seats are trimmed in a special leather treated to be easy to wash while repelling oil and water.
A practical seat setup is certainly one way to stand out in the three-row SUV segment, but it’s hardly ground breaking. Thankfully, there’s quite a bit more. Four of the seatbacks feature 10-inch infotainment screens individually capable of video playback and Internet access via a WiFi hotspot in the vehicle.
Those screens are also connected to a smart glass system that works in conjunction with eye-tracking technology to display information about points of interest that can then be swiped directly onto one of the individual screens, effectively turning the entire vehicle into a fishbowl of information. There’s even a panoramic glass roof made of the same material. By projecting an enhanced view of the vehicle’s surroundings, the same smart glass system can also make reversing around corners and parking much easier. The windows can also be dimmed or even blacked out at the swipe of a finger.
As if that isn’t already an overload, there are also two OLED touchscreens built into the steering wheel to control the Discovery Vision concept’s infotainment system.
Peering into the future, it looks like Land Rover is taking a page out of the German handbook for headlight style. For example, BMW’s new i8 hybrid sports car features laser headlights and – you guessed it – so does the Discovery Vision Concept. They offers up to almost 1,000 feet of visibility.
Speaking of looking forward, the fog lights are also laser equipped and can shoot those beams along with infrared rays to scan upcoming terrain. Information that the system gathers is translated into an image shown on the high-definition gauge cluster to give the driver a clear view ahead of the vehicle during off-road driving.
But beyond offering drastically improved visibility, the fog lights actually communicate with the vehicle’s traction control to decide which of its drive modes is most appropriate. They also add something called “Wade Aid,” which senses depth before the driver attempts a water crossing.
Things get even crazier because Land Rover enabled the concept to be driven by remote. That’s right, you can actually drive the concept – at very low speeds – through a smartphone, tablet or a removable rotary in the cabin. Land Rover says there are times when it is safer and easier to maneuver a vehicle while off-roading if you are outside the rig. Dubious as that might seem, the system could also be used to more easily hitch a trailer.
While it might seem questionable whether or not Land Rover will really be able to pass things like low-speed remote controlled driving and self-tinting windows by safety regulators, the idea certainly is exciting.