Land Rover unveils off-road successor to the Defender

Land Rover has unveiled a new off-road vehicle as part of its plan to replace the Defender model by 2015.

The DC100 concept incorporates features such as 3D terrain mapping, sonar gauging of water depth and an inductive strip in the rear for charging power tools and electronic equipment.                  

Speaking to The Engineer at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt, chief designer Oliver Le Grice said the project team had kept in mind the Defender’s current diverse clientèle, ranging from farmers and ecologists to UN aid workers.

‘The things that you want to hold onto with the Defender are the engineering integrity and approachability, so we had to keep all of that in the mix but then really update it as something appropriate for this century,’ he said.

Central to this new technology is the Terrain-i mapper that creates a virtual 3D visualisation of the ground ahead and displays it on the central touchscreen. Similar to systems used by fighter pilots, Terrain-i uses a headlamp-mounted scanner that runs algorithms to assess the route ahead and warn the driver of obstacles potentially too large to be safely negotiated.

‘It can make a very accurate judgement as to what you’re approaching, whether it be snow or sand, giving it a clear picture of what to programme in to allow you to tackle it,’ Le Grice said.

The concept also incorporates driver-deployable spikes, by way of an electro-mechanical system mounted within the tyre on the inside of the wheel. Activation causes air to inflate a secondary air chamber, filling pods moulded into the tread of the tyre that contain the spikes.

Meanwhile, a sonar-based ‘wade aid’ system assesses water depth working in conjunction with inclinometers to recognise whether the level is increasing or decreasing.

‘If you’re trying to ford a river it’ll figure out the depth and whether it’s something that you should attempt or not before you’ve actually committed yourself,’ Le Grice said.