Storm chaser ‘Tornado Tim’ Baker drove the Jaguar XF through America’s Midwest in search of a tornado as this year’s storm season came to a dramatic close.
A storm chaser’s role is vital to help predict tornadoes and save lives, so the XF was the perfect mobile lab for the chase team to catch their tornado and collect vital data.
The chase, which covered 2,000 miles (3, 218kms) of highway and farm tracks through seven US states, saw the XF evade baseball-sized hailstones and drive through floods and high winds before intercepting a twister on the Iowa-Illinois border.
After the encounter, Baker said: “Storm chasing is all about getting to the right place at the right time – and also staying out of trouble. It has been an interesting year for storms and it was great to try this car out as the season came to a close.”
“It took us a while to track one down, but when the weather map delivered, the car did too. The navigation and in-car Wi-Fi, which allowed us to connect our multiple devices, worked brilliantly in the chase. The all-wheel-drive capability was also excellent as we travelled through rain and floods on loose gravel roads.”
The chase began with the biggest storm of the 2016 season looming over the American Midwest, with a potential 95 million people in its path. It took Tim from Denver, Colorado, right up into Minnesota and down to Illinois.
During the chase, Baker met Brian Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Omaha office of the National Weather Service (NWS), which uses radar data to help scientists issue prompt, life-saving warnings to agencies and the general public.
Tornado chasers like Tim, and the vehicles they use, are a vital part of the modern network of weather warning. Having people on the ground to confirm the storms and analyse their path can help experts study them and predict future disasters.
The AWD XF found its twister when Baker intercepted a Category EF 0 (60-70 mph winds) tornado, two hours west of Chicago. The storm drenched the region, flooding roads and scattering debris, but the car coped brilliantly with the dirt roads and slippery highways.
With roads blocked, Tim used the super quick, pinch and zoom in-car navigation system, with 3D and satellite mapping, to find a safe way around the twister. Overnight, the storm delivered several more tornadoes, damaging buildings.
Kevin Stride, Vehicle Line Director for Jaguar XF said: “This was a real showcase for the XF’s capabilities. Tim was able to view storm data on the car’s 10 inch touchscreen and use the world-class In-Control Touch Pro navigation system to find them while travelling in comfort.”
“When the weather deteriorated, the car’s all surface capability with Adaptive Surface Response and torque on demand all-wheel-drive came into its own. The XF’s AdSR was able to fully exploit all available traction by altering mapping of the throttle, automatic transmission and DSC system to give confidence on the gravel tracks and cope with extreme flooding and high winds.”
“As expected, the tornado chase provided some extremely diverse challenges and we knew this would be a real genuine test for the XF, so we were delighted to see it handle all the conditions with ease…and come back in one piece.”
Jaguar Land Rover and BMW team up for electric tech
The collaboration seeks to advance consumer adoption of electric vehicle technology.
Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group are joining forces to develop next generation Electric Drive Units (EDUs) in a move that will support the advancement of electrification technologies, a central part of the automotive industry’s transition to an ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) future.
The strategic collaboration will build on the considerable knowledge and expertise in electrification at both companies. Jaguar Land Rover has demonstrated its leading technical capability in bringing the world’s first premium battery electric SUV to market – the 2019 World Car of the Year, the Jaguar I-PACE, as well as plug-in hybrid models; and BMW Group bringing vast experience of developing and producing several generations of electric drive units in-house since it launched the BMW i3 in 2013.
Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director said: “The transition to ACES represents the greatest technological shift in the automotive industry in a generation. The pace of change and consumer interest in electrified vehicles is gathering real momentum and it’s essential we work across industry to advance the technologies required to deliver this exciting future.
“We’ve proven we can build world beating electric cars but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products. It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next generation EDUs to support this transition have significant overlap making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.”
The agreement will enable both companies to take advantage of efficiencies arising from shared research and development and production planning as well as economies of scale from joint procurement across the supply chain.
A team of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group experts will engineer the EDUs with both partners developing the systems to deliver the specific characteristics required for their respective range of products.
The EDUs will be manufactured by each partner in their own production facilities. For Jaguar Land Rover this will be at its Wolverhampton-based Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), which was confirmed as the home for the company’s global EDU production in January of this year. The plant, which employs 1600 people, will be the centre of propulsion system manufacturing offering full flexibility between clean Ingenium petrol and diesel engines and electric units. The EMC will be complemented by the recently announced Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, near Birmingham, in supplying electrified powertrain systems to Jaguar Land Rover’s global vehicle plants.
Sensory steering wheel lets drivers feel the heat
Jaguar Land Rover researches rapid heating and cooling of the steering wheel for use with turn-by-turn navigation.
A steering wheel developed by Jaguar Land Rover could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.
The research, in partnership with Glasgow University, has created a ‘sensory steering wheel’, parts of which can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. This could be particularly useful when visibility is reduced through poor weather or the layout of the road.
The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete.
Driver distraction is a major contributor to road accidents around the world and accounts for 10 per cent of all fatal crashes in the USA alone*. Jaguar Land Rover’s research suggests thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road.
The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6°C. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change.
Studies have shown** temperature-based instructions could also be used for non-urgent notifications, where vibrations could be deemed unnecessarily attention grabbing, for example as a warning when fuel is running low, or for upcoming events, such as points of interest. Thermal cues can also be used where audio feedback would be deemed too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said:“Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future.
“The ‘sensory steering wheel’ is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road. Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”
The Jaguar Land Rover-funded research is part of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito at Glasgow University as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST).
Jaguar and Land Rover models already boast a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.