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‘Sci-fi’ Project Hero drone Discovery is a real life-saver

Project Hero head on
Ready for action: Project Hero Discovery with roof-based drone


8 March 2017

‘Project Hero’ drone Discovery

  • Austrian Red Cross to trial new search and rescue drone that can take off and land on Discovery, even when the vehicle is in motion
  • Developed by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations
  • World-first magnetic retention and self-centring drone technology
  • Aims to help Red Cross improve communications and cut disaster response times
  • Latest collaborative project in 63-year global relationship between Land Rover and the Red Cross

IT’S science fiction turned high-tech fact  – the one-off Project Hero drone Discovery life-saver developed for use by the Austrian Red Cross.

It has been designed and engineered by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO).

Revealed at Geneva Motor Show, the Project Hero drone Discovery is an advanced communication vehicle, created to support JLR’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 this 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.

Land Rover has supported the Red Cross since 1954 and supplied120 vehicles to the IFRC for deployment in all corners of the globe.  Land Rover currently supports 18 humanitarian projects in 25 countries.

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. The Project Hero drone can be controlled from the safety of the vehicle using a tablet app that allows the occupants to assess the surrounding environment as they drive.

It could well generate interest from other emergency services and businesses such as neww and entertainment media. But a JLR spokesman said: “This is a unique, special project with very specific needs but we could envisage creating a similar vehicle for other partners or clients. We have a fantastic team of specialist engineers and designers that are ready to respond to this type of brief.”

John Edwards, JLR 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.”

drone Discovery
One-off showpiece trialled

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.

“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.”

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

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

It 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.

drone Discovery
Project Hero Discovery has special equipment stowage


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