High-tech features including a drone help rescue workers

Land Rover has debuted its latest special concept vehicle designed specifically to help rescue workers in the Austrian Red Cross. It’s called Project Hero, and it made its debut at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show. Based on the new 2017 Land Rover Discover, this all-terrain SUV is fitted with some unusual equipment, including a roof-mounted drone.

“Land Rover and the team of engineers and designers at SVO are proud to support the incredible humanitarian work of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its members,” said John Edwards of Jaguar Land Rover. “The new Discovery is an outstanding all-terrain SUV, and Project Hero is the optimum combination of enhanced capability and innovative technology. We hope to help the Red Cross save lives in emergency situations.”

The Project Hero Discovery will be stationed in Erzberg, Styria at the Austrian Red Cross training center. It will also spend time in Vienna during its 12-month mission. The Discovery, along with its onboard equipment, will be used to develop new techniques for rescuing survivors of natural disasters like earthquakes, heavy snow, and floods.

Keep reading for the full details on the Land Rover Discovery Project Hero vehicle.

Continue reading for the full story.

What Make is Discovery Different?

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The Project Hero vehicle is based on a stock 2017 Land Rover Discovery. The team at Land Rover’s SVO department then modified the Discovery to include some one-off recovery gear and special tech features designed to spot and rescue survivors in rough terrain and inclement weather situations.

Obviously, the Discovery is a hardy off-roader to begin with. It features a full-time 4WD system, Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 traction management system, locking differentials, hill decent control, and an adjustable air suspension. The SVO team did add a set of meaty Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires for added grip. This particular example is powered by Land Rover’s new 3.0-liter TD6 V-6 turbodiesel. The intercooled engine makes 254 horsepower and an impressive 443 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

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The team at Land Rover’s SVO department then modified the Discovery to include some one-off recovery gear and special tech features designed to spot and rescue survivors in rough terrain and inclement weather situations.

Beyond that, the Land Rover’s most noticeable change is its roofline. That’s because the bubble top hides the built-in drone. The red portion of the top slides rearward, allowing the drop to fly away. The cradle system also features a proprietary landing pad, which allows the drone to land while the Discovery is in motion. Rescue workers will be able to deploy the drone to search for victims and survivors. A live video feed relays back to the Discovery, allowing aid workers to clearly inspect the situation.

When it comes to communication, the Discovery is chocked full of options. It features a Wi-Fi hotspot for Internet connection, along with several radios that operate on different frequencies. A whip antenna is mounted to the front bumper. For personal communication in the nearby vicinity, the Discovery is equipped with a handful of two-way handheld radios. They are stored in clever foam-cut bin hidden behind pop-out glass panels behind the C-pillar.

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The Land Rover’s most noticeable change is its roofline. That’s because the bubble top hides the built-in drone.

The Discovery’s cargo area is also packed full of equipment. A wire partition separates the passenger compartment from the cargo area. The wire both protects passengers from flying objects, but also serves as a great mounting point for more gear. A custom storage tray has been integrated into the floor, giving multi-level options for storage. Smaller items can be stored in the slide-out drawers, while the entire unit slides rearward for easy access to gear.

While the Project Hero Discovery might not be the most ogled over at Geneva, it has the potential to save lives. Hopefully it won’t have the need to be deployed, but should it be, it seems well-equipped for such a mission.

Press Release

Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) has designed and engineered a bespoke version of the new Land Rover Discovery for use by the Austrian Red Cross. ‘Project Hero’ was presented to the world’s media for the first time today at the Geneva Motor Show.

Project Hero is an advanced communication vehicle, created to support Jaguar Land Rover’s partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world’s largest humanitarian network. SVO collaborated with the Austrian Red Cross to develop a unique Land Rover that will be trialled by their emergency response teams. It is hoped it will help the Red Cross save lives by speeding up response times to disasters.

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Land Rover has supported the Red Cross since 1954 and supplied120 vehicles to the IFRC for deployment in all corners of the globe. Project Hero is the first with a roof-mounted drone. A fully integrated landing system featuring self-centring and magnetic retention technology is a world-first that enables the drone to land on Project Hero when the vehicle is in motion.

The drone enhances new Discovery’s already outstanding capability. 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. 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.

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John Edwards, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations Managing Director, said: “Land Rover and the team of engineers and designers at SVO are proud to support the incredible humanitarian work of the IFRC and its members.

“The new Discovery is an outstanding all-terrain SUV, and Project Hero is the optimum combination of enhanced capability and innovative technology. We hope to help the Red Cross save lives in emergency situations.”

Dr Jemilah Mahmood, IFRC Under Secretary General for Partnerships, said: “We are grateful to Land Rover for their generous support over the past 60 years, and are proud of our ambitious global partnership that has transformed the lives of millions of people on four continents.

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“The partnership is supporting communities around the world to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters such as monsoons, flooding and earthquakes.

“Project Hero combines the best expertise of the Red Cross and Jaguar Land Rover to create a truly unique vehicle, which we hope will be capable of making a difference to rescue operations in the toughest environments.”

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Project Hero is based on the 3.0-litre TD6 engine-powered version of the new Land Rover Discovery. In addition to the unique drone technology supplied in Project Hero, the rear of the interior in this special vehicle also features:

Heavy-duty sliding floor in the rear load space, which may be deployed as an addition work surface, or to protect the load carried underneath
Segregation panel behind the rear seats providing additional equipment mounting points
Strategically positioned LED lighting to aid night vision
Innovative power supply points which accept multiple plug arrangements from different regions

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Project Hero is also equipped with multiple frequency radio equipment enabling contact to be made in a variety of situations.

Project Hero will be based at the Austrian Red Cross training centre in Erzberg, in the mountainous Eisenerz mining area, and in Vienna, for 12 months from June 2017.The drone will be used in simulations to develop new and innovative techniques for disaster relief and on test-runs for complex natural disaster scenarios, including at night and in dense forests. Project Hero will also be used when the Red Cross provides emergency support at times of natural disasters, such as heavy snow or floods, or accidents.

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