Smartphone app drives car

A prototype smartphone application lets a driver control a Range Rover SUV from up to 10 meters away.


Is your Range Rover pinned into a tight parking spot? Well, just use your phone and back it out.

Jaguar Land Rover is working on technology that will let you remote control your car using your smartphone. In this demonstration the Range Rover is in a tight parking spot and the driver would have trouble getting into the car. Using a smartphone app, he can control the steering, accelerator and brake. Don't get too excited though, this app isn't going to turn you into James Bond. The car is limited to a slow crawl of 4 miles per hour or about 6 kilometers an hour. And you have to be within 10 meters of it for the control to work.

In a less likely scenario the company showed how a driver could walk alongside his car while navigating rough or difficult terrain. The company said this could be useful to avoid hitting rocks or scraping the back of the car on steep inclines, but that wouldn't exactly be the terrain where I'd want to drive a 70,000 dollar car.

The system uses a variety of sensors to avoid pedestrians, vehicles and other objects.

In addition to remote control, it can also autonomously do a three point turn; it handles all of the gear changes and steering.

This isn't the first futuristic project from Jaguar Land Rover. Last year the company showed an invisible hood that used cameras to eliminate blind spots. Using similar technology, another prototype made the pillars inside the car see through, giving drivers a better view of their surroundings.

The research team said this project is a stepping stone to autonomous driving, but pointed out that it doesn't want to take away the fun of driving. When the technology matures, drivers will have the option of self or autonomous driving in the same vehicle.

There is no word on commercialization of the system.

Nick Barber, IDG News Service.