Land Rover develops see-through trailer that eliminates blind spot

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 1, 2015

Land Rover is currently developing a see-through trailer that it hopes would remove entirely the blind spot that is created when a caravan or trailer is towed. This new concept hopes to give the driver a transparent view and improved visibility in order to see the cars coming up behind. The “Transparent Trailer” system is still in the prototype face that combines the video feed from the current surround camera system and a digital wireless camera that is positioned at either the back of the trailer or the caravan.

The current surround camera system already has a reversing camera as well as one camera on the wing mirrors. What the system does is to combine the different feeds and then create live video images making it appear as if the trailer behind it is see-through. When the trailer is paired with the towing car, the system automatically makes the live video feed appear on the rear view mirror of the vehicle.

When the driver goes into reverse, the driver can view the video feed through an infotainment screen that has calibrated guidance lines to help with the task further. Another concept that the Land Rover is developing is the Cargo Sense system. This is a monitoring system that is designed for an in-car trailer in order to optimize cargo loading to have safe towing. The system combines a mat of pressure sensors located on the floor and a remote video camera in the trailer that are wirelessly linked to the towing vehicle.

In addition to helping load the cargo in a uniform and even manner, the pressure sensors can detect if the load, whether those are boxes, a classic car, antique furniture, or even a prized horse, is currently moving inside the trailer in an abnormal manner while on the road. Before the issue becomes serious, the system alerts the driver by sending to the dashboard a “Check Cargo” warning.

The driver can also see live video feed from inside the trailer through an infotainment screen that is inside the vehicle. This also allows a passenger to see the footage even while the vehicle is currently in motion.

Clearly, the driver can also see the video while being stationary in order to make a better assessment of the situation from the driver’s seat. According to Land Rover, the research was due to the fact that many customers tow valuable items whether for business or pleasure and the system enhances the experience of towing since it makes it safer for driver and cargo. While a permanent video feed on the dashboard is a good enough solution, the problem is that it has the tendency to distract the driver while being on the road.

The systems being developed only warn the driver when there is a problem in the trailer. Through the video, the driver can then decide whether to stop or not. Furthermore, the Cargo Sense system can be linked to its own smartphone app that enables the driver to determine the current status of the cargo and trailer even if the driver is away from the trailer.

An owner for example who has his horse being transported can receive alerts if the horse is distressed, if the trailer has been tampered, or if the temperature inside the trailer is beyond acceptable levels. The owner can do this even if he not with the driver. With a number of horses being transported on different equestrian events around the world every year, it becomes important to find safer and new ways to transport them while reducing the possibility of road accidents that can cause injuries on both the handler and horse.

Many accidents have been caused by a horse that fell inside the trailer, horses forcing themselves to go out of the trailer, or moving in a way that results in the trailer swaying excessively.

Animal physiologist Dr. Emma Punt is working with both the Royal Veterinary College and British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association to determine how the Cargo sense system can be utilized to determine the stress levels of the horse in transport. With the addition of different devices that can measure the physical well-being of the horse in the trailer, Dr. Punt will also look into how the pressure sensors can help improve safety further.

Press Release

Land Rover To Demonstrate Pioneering See-Through Trailer Research At Burghley Horse Trials

Land Rover is developing a see-through trailer concept that would completely remove the blind spot created when towing a caravan or trailer. This transparent view would allow the driver to clearly see vehicles coming up behind and help driver confidence by improving visibility whilst manoeuvring.

The prototype 'Transparent Trailer' system combines the video feed from the vehicle's existing surround camera system - which includes the reversing camera and a camera on each wing mirror - with a video from a digital wireless camera that is placed on the rear of the trailer or caravan. The video feeds are then combined to create the live video images that make the trailer behind appear see-through. When the trailer is coupled to the towing car, the live video feed would automatically appear in the rear view mirror inside the vehicle.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "When you are overtaking it is instinctive to check your mirrors, but if you are towing your vision is often restricted with large blind spots. Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter what its size or shape. Our prototype system offers a very high quality video image with no distortion of other cars or obstructions. This means the driver would have exactly the right information to make safe and effective decisions when driving or manoeuvring,making towing safer and less stressful."

When reversing, the driver would also be able to view the camera feed from the back of the caravan or trailer through the infotainment screen, with guidance lines calibrated to help reverse both car and trailer.

Cargo Sense is an innovative idea for an in-car trailer monitoring system designed to optimise cargo loading for safer towing. The prototype system combines a remote video camera inside the trailer and a mat of pressure sensors on the floor, that both link wirelessly to the towing vehicle.

As well as helping customers load cargo evenly and uniformly, the pressure sensitive mat would detect if your load of boxes, antique furniture, a classic car or even a valuable horse is moving around the trailer in an unexpected or abnormal way whilst travelling.

The system would send a 'Check Cargo' warning to the dashboard to alert the driver to an issue with the cargo, or a horse, before it becomes serious. Live video footage from the camera inside the trailer could then be made available through the infotainment screen in the vehicle. A passenger would be able to view the footage whilst the vehicle is in motion. Alternatively, the driver could view the video while stationary to assess the situation in the trailer from the safety of the driver's seat.

Dr Epple added: "Many of our customers tow valuable cargoes for business and pleasure, 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."

The Cargo Sense app allows the driver to check the status of both trailer and load remotely when the owner is away from the trailer. If a horse owner is away from the horse trailer whilst walking the course at an equestrian event for example, the system could automatically alert the owner via SMS if the horse is distressed, if the temperature inside has exceeded safe levels, or if the trailer is being tampered with.

Thousands of horses travel to equestrian events all over the world every year. Finding safer ways to transport them would reduce the potential for road accidents during the journey and injuries to horse and handler when they reach their destination. Serious accidents have been caused by a horse falling over inside the trailer or making the trailer sway excessively, or even forcing themselves out of the trailer doors.

Animal physiologist Dr Emma Punt will work with the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) and the Royal Veterinary College on a research project to better understand horse stress and distress during travel and to see how Jaguar Land Rover's Cargo Sense technology could be used to indicate horse distress.

As well as testing a range of devices that measure the animal's physical wellbeing inside a trailer, Dr Punt will validate how a pressure sensor mat could identify and locate hoof pressure to highlight if the horse has moved unexpectedly.

Dr Punt said: "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.

"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."

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