This Special Land Rover Discovery Is a Mobile Drone Dock for Disaster Relief

March 9, 2017
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As they’ve become more accessible and mainstream, drones have been applied in numerous fields of work and play. Racing, videography/photography, package delivery, military operations, and spying on your neighbors’ grill to see what they’re having for dinner are all bullet points on the overall drone résumé. Now, Land Rover and the Red Cross of Austria want to expand on one of the most beneficial uses to date: search and rescue.

This new version of the latest Land Rover Discovery off-roader is kitted out with a drone-storing turtle top; it’s the latest and one of the most tech-advanced examples of the relationship between Land Rover and the Red Cross, which stretches back to 1954. The intention is to use the drone-equipped SUV to aid emergency response teams by surveilling disaster locations on info-gathering missions, as well as to help locate people who may need rescue or medical attention.

The build was spearheaded by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations outfit. Yes, the same SVO responsible for the Range Rover SVR and the ultra-luxe Range Rover SVAutobiography. The main addition is a drone that can launch and return while the vehicle is moving thanks to self-centering technology and magnets. The aircraft is stored in the roof-mounted pod, which has a sliding top for exit or entry.

Land Rover’s vehicles are designed to tackle off-road obstacles and rough terrain, but landslides, floods, earthquakes, and avalanches are a different story. That’s where the drone comes in. While Red Cross workers safely control the drone from inside the Disco using a tablet app, it can cover large amounts of territory in various conditions and provide information via the attached video camera. If a situation is discovered, the Red Cross can then assess and determine a plan faster than if searching by foot or by car.

The rear of the Discovery has been outfitted with equipment to assist in these efforts, too. The rear has a heavy-duty slide-out floor that can be used as an extra work station, additional power supplies were added, side hatches add storage that’s accessible from outside, and a panel behind the rear seats offers more storage mounts. Extra LED lighting was installed, and the Discovery has multiple-frequency radio equipment to keep the lines of contact open.

For now, the Project Hero Discovery is only in a trial phase, but if the test results are positive, it’s hard to believe anything but a lack of funding would keep this type of tech from being deployed around the world.

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