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Technology / Emerging Technology

Jaguar Land Rover takes autonomous vehicle software up a gear with new UK R&D centre

Jaguar Land Rover is pulling into the fast lane with its automation technology, with the automaker announcing on Monday it will open a new R&D centre in the UK.

The new centre, to open in Shannon, Ireland, will focus on research and development of software for electric and self-driving vehicles. The expansion will add 150 jobs to the 10,000 strong workforce of Jaguar Land Rover in Britain.

Software engineers will work to produce electrical architecture and advanced driver assistance systems for automated cars. The Irish Development Agency will support the automaker as its experts seek to optimize detection systems to aid navigation through a range of weather conditions over on- and off-road terrains.

The £24bn revenue firm says it is developing fully and semi-automated driving technologies and looking to hire more experts in AI, safety critical systems and vehicle architecture.

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The I-Pace concept vehicle is a preview of Jaguar Land Rover’s first all-electric five-seater sports car.

“Technical innovation lies at the heart of Jaguar Land Rover and our innovation is continuous,” said Nick Rogers, Executive Director of Product Engineering. “The new facility provides an exciting opportunity for us to pioneer future autonomous and electrification technologies.”

Jaguar Land Rover began testing its autonomous vehicles on UK roads in November 2017 as part of the government’s £20m Autodrive initiative aimed at boosting the self-driving sector. In June, the car manufacturer invested $25m in Lyft, the ride-hailing app which tested its driverless vehicles during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada last week.

Britain’s largest automotive company has been holding its own in the face of fierce US competition in the field; Waymo (Alphabet) began widespread autonomous vehicle testing in early November, and announced another round of test drives in San Francisco over the weekend.

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Meanwhile, Tesla owner Elon Musk forecasts his driverless will hit the road by 2020 – though the 4IR entrepreneur is notorious for missing his own production deadlines. Chinese competitor Byton unveiled its concept SUV at CES 2018, the latest international heavyweight to enter the driverless ring. Available in 2019, Byton’s all-electric SUV is billed as “the fastest car on the data highway” complete with on-board programmable SIM cards, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC (near field communication) and shared connectivity.

Jaguar Land Rover has established a partnership with online education provider Udacity, a body which offers courses in automated driving, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

The automaker’s first fully electric sports car, the I-PACE, will go on sale this year.
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