Land Rover is launching a drone-equipped SUV that could save lives.
The Jaguar-owned company unveiled Project Hero yesterday at the Geneva Motor Show – an “advanced communication vehicle” designed for use by rescue agencies. The company’s Special Vehicle Operations division partnered with the Austrian Red Cross to create the system and the agency plans to trial the vehicle in the coming months.
Unique to the Land Rover Discovery model is a roof-mounted drone – a Taiwanese Align M480L quadcopter – with a 20-minute flight window and a top speed of 34 mph. The drone will capture live footage during an emergency response that will reduce response times and help rescuers assess damage and rescue tactics. An integrated landing system will allow the drone to land on the Discovery while the vehicle is moving. Captured video can be broadcast directly to the vehicle in real time. The drone can also be controlled by a tablet app.
“The partnership is supporting communities around the world to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters such as monsoons, flooding and earthquakes,” International Red Cross Under-Secretary General Jemilah Mahmood said in a press release. “Project Hero combines the best expertise of the Red Cross and Jaguar Land Rover to create a truly unique vehicle, which we hope will be capable of making a difference to rescue operations in the toughest environments.”
Project Hero will be based at a Red Cross training center in Erzberg, Austria where the area’s mountainous terrain will facilitate natural-disaster test scenarios such as avalanches and blizzards.
As drone deployment continues to flourish in the public-safety sector, several companies and agencies are partnering to create drone-centered, emergency response vehicle systems. In 2015, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft’s Advanced Patrol Platform (MAPP), a drone-equipped police car controlled by a mobile device. The drone interfaces with the patrol vehicle to coordinate driving directions, suspect histories and dispatch comms, among other functions.
Last year, Microsoft also unveiled a software bundle that provides secure cloud computing to government agencies and conforms to all law-enforcement compliance controls and restrictions.