In 2019, Audi teased an autonomous concept car, AI:Trail, that used drones for headlights. These drones with integrated matrix LED elements would fly ahead of the vehicle to light the way, eliminating the need for headlights altogether. The concept was naturally brushed off as extravagant and impractical. But Jeep has figured out a comparatively reasonable and practical way to incorporate drones into its future technology lineup. It’s, well, not giving up headlamps.
At its parent company Stellantis’ EV Day 2021 event last week, Jeep revealed its road map for electrification.
In addition to releasing the first images of the all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid, the automaker provided a sneak peek into the future car technologies its engineers are working on. These included everything from biometric facial recognition, peer-to-peer EV charging, autonomous off-road navigation, and of course, in-built drone pairing compatibility.
Drone compatibility with Jeep vehicles
Essentially, Jeep wants to use drones to provide an extra pair of lights to the drivers as they navigate an off-road trail in the pitch dark. But there is no reason why the same drone cannot capture some stunning footage of the SUV’s off-road adventures too autonomously.
It’s worth noting that the technology preview came in the form of a video presentation that teased the upcoming features but didn’t exactly dive into details. And then there was this disclaimer: “Concept models and features, and fictional situations shown throughout. Future models and features may vary.”
This means there is no guarantee that Jeep would indeed be able to incorporate drones as all-seeing guides into its tech stack by 2025, as the video timeline suggests.
However, there is no reason why Jeep shouldn’t be able to convert this vision into a reality. Dashboard integration with a drone, for one, should not be a technical challenge for the carmaker. Autonomous drone technology is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and most drones worth their salt come with solid obstacle avoidance features. Also, the rules and regulations around drone flying are opening up. We would imagine autonomous, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights to become commonplace by 2025.
In addition to the loaded off-roader, we would imagine such kind of drone compatibility coming in handy during enterprise work and search and rescue operations as well. Check out the video (forward to 1:07 for the drone part):
So, what do you think? Would Jeep succeed in shipping its future all-electric models with companion drones? Let us know in the comments below.
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