Speaking at the reveal of the born-again model, chief product engineer Stuart Frith said the company was working on the remote control technology, admitting it was “a good idea”.
“The car is capable of being able to do that in terms of its architecture,” said Frith. “The car is technology-ready for that.”
Land Rover has already said it is working to leverage the over-the-air software functionality of the upcoming 2020 Defender to add or tweak features where appropriate.
But there would also be hardware involved.
Frith said such remote control technology would rely on the latest generation Activity Key (which will be standard in Australia), which owners wear like a watch to lock and unlock the car.
“We’ve got as far as understanding how to do it and we’ve run prototypes as well,” said Frith, adding that the Activity Key could be used to verify the owner is within sight of the vehicle and in control.
Being able to stand alongside the car could help with tricky off-road manoeuvres — such as getting over large rocks or logs — by allowing the driver to see if any parts of the bodywork are likely to scrape and check wheel placement to make sure you’re not driving into something that could get you stuck.
Hard core off-roaders often use spotters outside the car to help with those trickier situations.
“If you’re in a tight spot and you’re on your own you can get out of the car and spot it yourself,” said Frith.
The challenge for now is getting authorities around the world to approve the radical remote control technology.
Frith says that while some cars currently on sale allow basic driving into or out of a parking spot remotely, there are issues with allowing broader remote control, including steering.
“The legislation is not ready yet for us to do that,” he said, adding that the company was discussing concerns with authorities.
That’s in line with ongoing discussions with regulatory authorities regarding driver assistance and semi-autonomous functionality, all of which is advancing quickly.