Jaguar Land Rover has been producing rugged and durable vehicles for the British for decades, but the company has really outdone itself. On Tuesday, the car brand unveiled an upgraded version of its iconic Land Rover Discovery with a first-of-its-kind feature: a built-in, roof-mounted drone.
Dubbed ‘Project Hero’ and designed by the company’s Special Vehicle Operations division, the drone-enabled Discovery was specially engineered for the Austrian Red Cross in cooperation with the International Federal of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world’s largest humanitarian network.
This is no trifling addition. While the company has been supplying the Red Cross with its signature Land Rovers since 1954, the drone system is designed to augment the vehicle’s dependably solid frame with enhanced information gathering capabilities that can aid search-and-rescue operations in even the most stressful environments.
Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
“With the drone airborne, live footage can be transmitted to the Red Cross’s emergency response teams, helping them respond more quickly and effectively to landslides, earthquakes, floods and avalanches,” the company announced Tuesday. “Dramatic landscape changes can make maps redundant, which adds to the danger and difficulty of finding and rescuing survivors, so the drone’s bird’s-eye view will allow rescuers to investigate an emergency scene from a safe distance.”
This is just the beginning for the Red Cross. In 2015, the Red Cross’s U.S. chapter commissioned an extensive report on the the potential applications of remote-controlled drones, focused on disaster response and relief operations, concluding that drones “may be used to provide relief workers with better situational awareness, locate survivors amidst the rubble, perform structural analysis of damaged infrastructure, deliver needed supplies and equipment, evacuate casualties, and help extinguish fires,” among other life-saving functions.
It’s clear that the new Discovery may be one of the most novel applications of drone technology yet — and, at least, the one with the most potential impact on our safety and security. Watch this beast in action below: