It might seem like the kind of innovation that takes the fun out of driving off-road, but Land Rover says it's a logical development to allow their four wheel drives drive themselves.

Not many will have seen this one coming but, on reflection, it makes sense to reduce the risks of driving on difficult terrain with the help of new technology. Land Rover has been working with the British government to promote the accelerated drive to self-driving car on a new project called CORTEX. Britain has committed to being a world leader in autonomous driving and the latest project - involving expenditure of more than three billion Euro - aims to develop technology that will cement that lead. 

The project will take self-driving cars off-road, "ensuring they are fully capable in any weather condition: dirt, rain, ice, snow or fog. As part of the project, a ‘5D’ technique combining acoustic, video, radar, light detection and distance sensing (LiDAR) data live in real-time is being engineered. Access to this combined data improves the awareness of the environment the car is in. Machine-learning enables the self-driving car to behave in an increasingly sophisticated way, allowing it to handle any weather condition on any terrain."

The latest technology could reduce off-road risk significantly.

The result should be a car that will calculate off-road risk and prevent drivers making mistakes. In the event they they do make one, the technology should allow for the car to manage its way out of difficulties in a way that a driver might not. For example, when driving off-road judging the angle at which a vehicle should be driven to ensure the greatest traction can be critical. If the correct angle can be chosen with the help of the new technology then the difference could be very important. Likewise, judging the depth of deep water could be a huge benefit to off-road drivers and the car should be able to alert them as to whether driving into it or through it is a wise move.

Chris Holmes, Jaguar Land Rover's connected and autonomous vehicle research manager, says: "It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers. Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vision in the near future.