Land Rover's Transparent Trailer concept keeps the rear view clear
Last year, Land Rover unveiled its Discovery Vision concept with its Transparent Bonnet, which used cameras and virtual technology to make the front of the car appear "transparent" to the driver. It was a clever idea for eliminating blind spots, but what if you're hauling a caravan or a horse box? To help eliminate this massive rear blind spot, the company has developed a prototype "Transparent Trailer" system, which extends virtual translucence to the rear.
In recent years, there have been a number of ideas for eliminating automotive blind spots. Some, such as reversing cameras, are becoming standard equipment, but others aim at allowing drivers to virtually look "through" their cars, such as versions to make the back seat or the cabin pillars seemingly disappear, while some systems even aim to make the juggernaut ahead of you become see-through.
According to Land Rover, the Transparent Trailer uses video feeds from the car's surround camera system together with another digital wireless camera installed in the rear of a trailer, caravan, or horsebox. This feed is transmitted live to the rearview mirror, where it gives the illusion of the caravan being transparent. When reversing, guidance lines are added to aid in maneuvering.
So far, this seems like just a sternward extension of the Transparent Bonnet, but Land Rover has added an extra wrinkle with is Cargo Sense prototype. This involves adding an additional wireless camera plus a pressure sensor mat inside the trailer, which allows a passenger to visually inspect the load while moving and the driver to do so when the vehicle is stopped.
Meanwhile, the mat helps ensure cargo is loaded evenly and warns through the infotainment screen when a load shifts or a horse starts moving about abnormally. The system also connects to a smartphone app, so the driver can keep tabs on a cargo or horse when the owner is away from the trailer. In the case of the latter, the system not only monitors movement, but also box temperature, and if the door is being tampered with by the horse or an outsider.
"Many of our customers tow valuable cargoes for business and pleasure," says Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover. "So we are researching a range of technologies that would enhance the towing experience and make it safer – for the driver and even their horses. A permanent video feed through to the dashboard from the trailer has the potential to distract the driver from the road ahead. Instead, we are developing a more intelligent system that is able to detect a problem with the horse in the trailer and warn the driver. The video is then available for owners to view the inside of the trailer and support a decision to pull over and check the horse."
Land Rover is still developing the prototype and toward that end is working with animal physiologist Dr Emma Punt, the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) and the Royal Veterinary College to gain a better understanding of how travel stresses and distresses horses, so the pressure pad can better indicate when a horse is in distress.
"Whether it is to help prevent road accidents and injuries to horse and handler, or even to simply ensure your horse arrives at its destination stress free, I'm sure every owner would like to learn how to reduce stress for their horse during travel," said Dr Punt. "Gaining a better understanding of the environment inside the trailer, and the horse's reaction to it, would make the animal more comfortable during travel and ensure the horse is capable of performing to the best of its ability, whether it's at a local competition, or a major international event like the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials."
Land Rover will be demonstrating the technology in a Range Rover research vehicle at said horse trials from the 3rd to 6th of September.
The video below introduces the Transparent Trailer.Source: