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Autonomy comes to Range Rover

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Land Rover has introduced advanced autonomous driving technologies in the Range Rover with a new model from Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic.

Since it redefined the luxury SUV sector more than 46 years ago, Range Rover has achieved more than one million sales. The original Classic model debuted in 1970 and over four generations the luxury SUV has established itself as a design reference for all-terrain luxury.

The new SVAutobiography Dynamic brings new levels of performance to the Range Rover, powered by a 405kW V8 supercharged engine. Building on the successful launch of the long-wheelbase Range Rover SVAutobiography, the SVAutobiography Dynamic is available in standard wheelbase specification and comes fitted with specially configured suspension designed to optimise agility without compromising Range Rover’s trademark refinement and comfort.

The 2017 model year Range Rover also debuts a selection of innovative new technologies, which provide the building blocks towards fully autonomous driving. These features include Advanced Tow Assist, an intelligent driver aid that takes the stress out of reversing a trailer.

In addition, Driver Condition Monitor and Blind Spot Assist, which autonomously steers the vehicle back into its lane if sensors detect the driver is steering into the path of another road user, are added to an extensive selection of advanced safety features.

Interior changes include a new larger 10-inch dual view touchscreen display, powered by Land Rover’s market-leading InControl Touch Pro system. The pinch and zoom, tablet-style touchscreen provides a host of new features including customisable homepages, enhanced satellite navigation functions and instant access to the driver’s favourite apps.

“Range Rover has been the world’s leading luxury SUV since its debut more than 46 years ago,” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Design Officer. “Design is fundamental to this vehicle and the latest refinements reinforce its status as the ultimate luxury SUV. By offering our customers more choice, more technology and more power we ensure Range Rover remains in a class of its own.”

Land Rover provided the following summary:

The SVAutobiography Dynamic is the most powerful production Range Rover. Its potent 405kW 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine is shared with the acclaimed Range Rover Sport SVR. The engine has been specifically calibrated for the flagship Range Rover and delivers 680Nm of torque, powering the SVAutobiography Dynamic from 0-100km/h in only 5.4 seconds. It is paired with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission for seamless gear changes and supreme performance.

The interior takes Range Rover to new heights of desirability and refinement. Diamond quilted leather seats with contrast stitching are available in four exclusive colourways, which complement the Ebony perforated leather headliner, giving an immediate impression of luxury. The front fascia and door casings feature a Grand Black veneer, with an additional Red keyline finish on the door casings. In addition, key features, such as the rotary shift controller, start stop button and pedals have a sophisticated knurled finish. Underlining its dynamic positioning, the paddle shifters are finished in anodized red (except when specified with a tan interior) while the driver’s handbook is bound in quilted leather chosen to match the interior.

The new addition to the range is identified by a series of unique exterior features. The side vents, bonnet finisher, grille, front bumper accents, Range Rover script and tailgate finisher are all finished in Graphite Atlas. Customers have a choice of 21 and 22-inch alloy wheel designs, as well as three unique finishes. The SVAutobiography Dynamic is also the first Range Rover available with eye-catching red brake calipers and Brembo brake technology.

Jaguar Land Rover’s SVO division has fine-tuned the suspension to achieve the optimum combination of performance and comfort. Revisions to the knuckles, links, springs and dampers provide a lower ride height (8mm lower than standard) and more immediate responses.

SVAutobiography Dynamic also features two driver-focused technologies designed to deliver improved body control and agility. Dynamic Response improves vehicle handling and occupant comfort by reducing the amount of body lean during cornering. The system controls the front and rear axles independently, delivering increased low-speed agility, superior high-speed stability and greater steering precision. Adaptive Dynamics monitors vehicle movements up to 500 times a second, reacting to driver inputs and changes in the road surface to provide greater control without compromising Range Rover’s peerless refinement.

In keeping with its more purposeful character, the SVAutobiography Dynamic features bright chrome quad tailpipes that have been optimised to enhance its distinctive V8 soundtrack.

“The Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic has been specially developed by the Special Vehicle Operations team to deliver a more engaging driving experience,” said Mark Stanton, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations. “It delivers the ultimate combination of performance and Range Rover luxury, befitting its unique position in the portfolio.”

2017 Range Rover adds convenience through innovative technology

Range Rover is the ultimate expression of luxury and 2017 Model Year customers can access more advanced autonomous technologies than ever before. Advanced Tow Assist debuts and takes the stress out of the potentially difficult task of reversing while towing a trailer.

Using the vehicle’s existing Surround Camera System the clever technology enables drivers to guide a trailer into position with minimal effort. By following the trajectory lines overlaid on an image from the rear-facing camera displayed on the central touchscreen, Advanced Tow Assist is able to automatically steer the vehicle to follow the path selected by the driver using the Terrain Response 2 rotary controller.

Advanced Tow Assist allows even the most inexperienced drivers to manoeuvre a trailer into position quickly, easily and safely – the intelligent set-up even alerts the driver if they are approaching a jack-knife situation.

Specialist technology enhances all-terrain credentials

Peerless all-terrain capability is a cornerstone of the Range Rover family and new 2017 model year Range Rover features a pair of new technologies designed to reinforce its class-leading credentials:

Low Traction Launch – A manually selectable driving mode designed to assist drivers when pulling away from a standstill on slippery surfaces such as wet grass, snow or ice. By controlling the amount of torque that can be applied by the driver, the system reduces the likelihood of wheelspin to maintain traction and ensure smooth acceleration.

The feature can be accessed independently through the central touchscreen and the driver is prompted to engage Low Traction Launch whenever Grass/Gravel/Snow mode is selected using Terrain Response 2. The system remains active until the vehicle reaches 30km/h.

All-Terrain Info Centre – Relays useful information to the driver relating to the vehicle’s configuration and status via the central touchscreen display.

Improved connectivity and intuitive interactivity

The introduction of Jaguar Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment is a significant enhancement to 2017 Model Year Range Rover. The class-leading system delivers improved satellite navigation functionality and connectivity while its more intuitive operation is augmented by the new larger 10-inch dual-view touchscreen display.

InControl Touch Pro introduces a series of new app services to Range Rover. InControl Remote Premium allows customers to remotely control vehicle functions such as activating the climate control to cool or heat the car ready for departure, set and deactivate the alarm, and even start the engine. The app will alert owners if their vehicle alarm has been triggered.

Additional InControl Touch Pro Services include live apps that can be downloaded to the system to provide information such as weather reporting and flight tracking.

Improved satellite navigation and services

As part of the new InControl Touch Pro system fitted to 2017 model year Range Rover, the fully integrated satellite navigation has been extensively developed with a range of new features including door-to-door routing. The comprehensive system allows customers to set a destination on the Land Rover-dedicated smartphone Route Planner app.

The app will navigate you to the vehicle, before transferring further directions to the in-vehicle system. Once parked close to your destination, the system will switch back to the smartphone to guide owners to their chosen location on foot.

Commute mode automatically learns frequently used routes, such as the journey to work, and recommends the best route dependent on live traffic data. Meanwhile the sharing function allows owners to share their destination, arrival time and current location with friends, family and colleagues.

The driver is also able to view a partial or full navigation screen within the Virtual Instrument Display, depending on their preference. Rear passengers can also view the journey time and distance to destination using the built-in rear seat entertainment system and even browse navigation maps and send suggested destinations to the driver, who can choose to reject or accept them using the central touchscreen display.

Advanced safety systems

New 2017 model year Range Rover introduces a host of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to the luxury SUV. Standard driver assistance technologies include Rear Park Distance Control, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter and Lane Departure Warning

The additional Drive Pack includes existing features such as Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection.

The Drive Pro Pack takes the features from the Drive Pack and adds Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist. New to 2017 model year Range Rover is Blind Spot Assist, which automatically applies counter steering if the driver begins to change lane into the path of a following vehicle. Lane Keep Assist is another new feature for 2017 model year. It provides gentle, corrective steering input if it detects the vehicle drifting across the white lines out of its lane.

Unique colours and finishes for most luxurious Range Rover

The level of personalisation available for 2017 Model Year Range Rover is taken to new heights with the introduction of new exterior finishes available through Special Vehicle Operations.

The mix of 19 new colours gives customers a more varied choice of metallic and pearlescent colours, all available in either gloss or satin matte finishes. The additional options range from traditional shades to bolder, more contemporary choices. From spectacular, deep blacks to dramatic reds, the new colours perfectly complement and finish the design of the world’s most luxurious SUV.

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Meet Aston Martin F1’s incredible moving data centre

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team faces a great deal more IT challenges than your average enterprise as not many IT teams have to rebuild their data center 21 times each year and get it running it up in a matter of hours. Not many data centers are packed up and transported around the world by air and sea along with 45 tonnes of equipment. Not many IT technicians also have to perform a dual role as pit stop mechanic.

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The trackside garage at an F1 race is a tight working environment and a team of only two IT technicians face pressure from both the factory and trackside staff to get the trackside IT up and running very fast. Yet, despite all these pressures, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing do not have a cloud-led strategy. Instead they have chosen to keep all IT in house.

The reason for this is performance. F1 is arguably the ultimate performance sport. A walk round the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, England, makes it abundantly clear that the whole organization is hell bent on maximizing performance. 700 staff at the factory are all essentially dedicated to the creation of just two cars. The level of detail that is demanded in reaching peak performance is truly mind blowing. For example, one machine with a robotic arm that checks the dimensions of the components built at the factory is able to measure accuracy to a scale 10 times thinner than a human hair.

This quest for maximum performance, however, is hampered at every turn by the stringent rules from the F1 governing body – the FIA. Teams face restrictions on testing and technology usage in order to prevent the sport becoming an arms race. So, for example, pre-season track testing is limited to only 8 days. Furthermore, wind tunnel testing is only allowed with 60% scale models and wind tunnel-usage is balanced with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, essentially a virtual wind tunnel. Teams that overuse one, lose time with the other.

In order to maximize performance within uniquely difficult logistical and regulatory conditions, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team has had to deploy a very powerful and agile IT estate.

According to Neil Bailey, Head of IT Infrastructure, Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, their legacy trackside infrastructure was “creaking”. Before choosing hyperconverged infrastructure, their “traditional IT had reached its limits”, says Bailey. “When things reach their limits they break, just like a car,” adds Bailey.

The team’s biggest emphasis for switching to HPE’s hyperconverged infrastructure, SimpliVity, was performance. Now, with “the extra performance of SimpliVity, it means it doesn’t get to its limits,” says Bailey. HPE SimpliVity has helped reduce space, has optimized processing power and brought more agility.

One of the first and most important use cases they switched to hyperconverged infrastructure was post-processing trackside data. During a race weekend each car is typically fitted with over 100 sensors providing key data on things like tyre temperature and downforce multiple times per second. Processing this data and acting on the insights is key to driving performance improvements. With their legacy infrastructure, Bailey says they were “losing valuable track time during free practice waiting for data processing to take place.” Since switching to HPE SimpliVity, data processing has dropped from being more than 15 minutes to less than 5 minutes. Overall, the team has seen a 79% performance boost compared to the legacy architecture. This has allowed for real time race strategy analysis and has improved race strategy decision making.

Data insights helps the team stay one step ahead, as race strategy decisions are data driven. For example, real time tyre temperature data helps the team judge tyre wear and make pit stop decisions. Real time access to tyre data helped the team to victory at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix as the Aston Martin Red Bull cars pitted ahead of the rest of the field and Daniel Ricciardo swept to a memorable victory.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is also well suited to the “hostile” trackside environment, according to Bailey. With hyperconverged infrastructure, only two racks are needed at each race of which SimpliVity only takes up about 20% of the space, thus freeing up key space in very restricted trackside garages. Furthermore, with the team limited to 60 staff at each race, only two of Bailey’s team can travel. The reduction in equipment and closer integration of HPE SimpliVity means engineers can get the trackside data center up and running quickly and allow trackside staff to start work as soon as they arrive.

Since seeing the notable performance gains from using hyperconverged infrastructure for trackside data processing, the team has also transitioned some of the factory’s IT estate over to HPE SimpliVity. This includes: Aerodynamic metrics, ERP system, SQL server, exchange server and the team’s software house, the Team Foundation Server.

As well as seeing huge performance benefits, HPE SimpliVity has significantly impacted the work patterns of Bailey’s team of just ten. According to Bailey, the biggest operational win from hyperconverged infrastructure is “freeing up engineers’ time from focusing on ‘business as usual’ to innovation.” Traditional IT took up too much of the engineers’ time monitoring systems and just keeping things running. Now with HPE SimpliVity, Bailey’s team can “give the business more and quicker” and “be more creative with how they use technology.”

Hyperconverged infrastructure has given Aston Martin Red Bull Racing the speed, scalability and agility they require without any need to turn to the cloud. It allows them to deliver more and more resources to trackside staff in an increasingly responsive manner. However, even with all these performance gains, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been able to reduce IT costs. So, the users are happy, the finance director is happy and the IT team are happy because their jobs are easier. Hyperconvergence is clearly the right choice for the unique challenges of Formula 1 racing.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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