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2020 Land Rover Defender holds true to original's spirit while infusing modern technology, equipment

The Land Rover Defender returns to the automaker's lineup for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover has made no secret of the fact that they're on a journey of transformation. Since its break with Ford Motor Company, the British automaker has been trying to find itself, break through to a larger audience, and expand its lineup. Add in a heaping helping of modern technology and equipment and you get a sense of why now is the right time to bring back the Defender.

The production of the model that is now known as the Defender started in the 1980s under the name Land Rover 110. It was squared off, rugged, and purpose-built with no superficial exterior flourishes. As the model moved into production, it received coil springs, a permanent four-wheel drive system, fresh interior, one-piece windshield, and new engine lineup. In 1983, the Defender was officially born.

Land Rover Defender Chepstow Racecourse Horse shoes and motifs adorn a vintage Land Rover Defender during the 2016 Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow Racecourse. Photo by Getty Images

Land Rover stopped selling the Defender in the U.S. in 1997 due to safety regulations.

The return of the Land Rover Defender had long been rumored. By 2010, the automaker had confirmed a new model was in the works. The redesigned 2020 Land Rover Defender debuted on September 10, 2019 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The look of the Defender is true to the original while taking into account modern safety regulations and aerodynamic qualities, and adding in the latest off-roading equipment, and fresh infotainment technology. The vehicle's frame is made of aluminum while steel and magnesium play an important roll in other parts of the SUV.

Land Rover Defender 2020 design stage The Land Rover Defender design process was about serving the customer's needs and meeting their expectations.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2020 Defender comes in short and regular wheelbase models (named 90 and 110, respectively).

There's an Urban package for those who want the chic look of a Defender but required black wheels and exterior accents (hello, Americans) as well as Explorer, Adventure, and Country packs that add elements consistent with rugged travel.

"We don't create commodities," said Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover, at an unveiling event in Los Angeles last month. "We create vehicles that people have an emotional connection with."

2020 Land Rover Defender off-roading trail The Land Rover Defender is a capable beast on- and off-road.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Part of creating that emotional connection is playing on the heritage of the model. McGovern noted that the 2020 Defender acknowledges the heritage of the Defender nameplate and moves it forward.

In addition to the sleek exterior, there are unmistakable design cues that showcase the vehicle as being ready for the future. Land Rover used a simple formula in the model's creation: visceral + behavioral + reflective = emotional design.

Land Rover Defender lifestyle camping Land Rover wanted to make the Defender the best it could be for its customers, without making them compromise.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Its presence is both commanding and robust, while still being stealthy thanks to the design of the fenders and integrated door handles. It has high sills and low overhangs.

Land Rover designers set out to create a vehicle that, like the original Defender, was fit for purpose, while at the same time having the potential to become an icon. Every generational redesign starts with a design brief. It was a, "clean, short brief," said Mark Wilson, vehicle engineering manager, Land Rover. "Just make it the best."

To get there, Land Rover focused on the buyer. The automaker sees its Defender customer as someone who fancies exploring nature, seeks utility and capability, and wants Defender to be a part of their life from mundane daily driving to heavy-duty off-roading, and everything in between.

2020 Land Rover Defender map infotainment screen The interior of the Defender features modern technology that buyers are seeking.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

To get to icon status, the 2020 Defender was, "optimized to obtain supreme off-roading capability," said McGovern. The SUV's off-roading capability was put to the test throughout the design stage in terrain like what is seen in most modern Land Rover commercials. A Red Cross emergency response team even helped out with the SUV's development.

This January, Land Rover enthusiasts will be able to put the model to the test for the first time on U.S. soil at the 4xFAR Festival. If you don't want to wait until then to get your hands on one, there's a way to get the new Defender (or at least a version of it) under your tree at Christmas.

2020 Land Rover Defender Hell's Gate Moab Utah Land Rover tested the Defender in some of the world's toughest terrain.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2020 Land Rover Defender starts at $49,900 and customers can place their order today with deliveries starting in 2020.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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Honda is working with Verizon on self-driving cars technology.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The Mcity campus was designed to be a proving ground for new technologies. Honda and Verizon are utilizing it as such as they partner to explore how Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) can be used to ensure quick and reliable communication between road infrastructure, vehicles, and pedestrians.

The 5G technology leverages cloud technology to deliver lower latency, a large amount of bandwidth, and improved communication. This communication includes the way that vehicles interact with ther cars, traffic lights, pedestrians and emergency vehicles to improve threat detection and avoid accidents when seconds matter most. That's where the "V2" in acronyms like "V2V" (vehicle-to-vehicle) and "V2X" (vehicle- to-everything).

Honda and Verizon Test How 5G Enhances Safety for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles www.youtube.com

Honda has been working since 2017 to develop a technology that will help to create a collision-free society. The technology, called Safe Swarm, uses V2X communication to enable vehicles to communicate with other road users and share key information such as location, speed, and vehicle sensor data.

There are some obstacles, not the least of which is the need to outfit each vehicle with onboard artificial intelligence capabilities. The use of 5G helps move the AI capabilities from the vehicle to the MEC, reducing the need for AI onboard each vehicle.

"The ability to move computing power to the edge of our 5G network is an essential building block for autonomous and connected vehicles, helping cars to communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors and cameras installed in streets and traffic lights," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president of Technology Development and 5G Labs at Verizon. "When you consider that roughly 42,000 people were killed in car accidents last year and 94% of accidents are caused by human error, our new technologies including 5G and MEC can help drivers 'see' things before the human eye can register and react helping to prevent collisions and save lives."

Three safety scenarios have been explored as part of the testing:

  • Pedestrian Scenario - A pedestrian is crossing a street at an intersection. An approaching driver cannot see the pedestrian due to a building obstructing the view. Smart cameras mounted in the intersection relay information to MEC using the 5G network. Verizon's MEC and V2X software platforms detect the pedestrian and vehicle and determine the precise location of road users assisted by Verizon's Hyper Precise Location services. A visual warning message is then sent alerting the driver of the potential danger.
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning Scenari - A driver cannot see an approaching emergency vehicle and cannot hear its siren due to the high volume of in-vehicle audio. Verizon's MEC and V2X software receive a safety message from the emergency vehicle and send a warning message to nearby vehicles. The driver receives a visual warning.
  • Red Light Runner Scenario - A vehicle fails to stop at a red light. Using data from the smart cameras, MEC and V2X software detect the vehicle and send a red-light-runner visual warning message to other vehicles approaching the intersection.

You can watch the video of Honda and Verizon's Mcity tests at http://honda.us/5GResearch.

Honda isn't the only company exploring what 5G communication can offer. Pirelli has installed the tech in its tires and BMW recently updated its My BMW app to make it compatible with the new technology. Audi is working on similar technology out on the road in Virginia and Georgia.

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