A special version of the new Land Rover Discovery dubbed ‘Project Discovery’ and designed for search and rescue operations is actually being deployed with the Austrian Red Cross – complete with a quadcopter drone that can take off from and land on the SUV, even while it’s moving. Magnets lock the drone in place while the Discovery is moving, and the drone can assist with search and rescue operations, extending the Red Cross staff’s ability to cover terrain beyond where the car and their feet can take them.
The car was designed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit, which is exactly as cool as it sounds. it’s custom-made, and part of a long-running partnership Land Rover has had with the Red Cross across the globe, which has seen the two work together for 63 years in total. Land Rover’s new drone Discovery is almost certainly the most technologically advanced result of that longstanding arrangement, however.
The drone that the Discovery carries onboard can broadcast live footage back to the rescue crew at the car, giving them a bird’s-eye view not only of potential survivors in case of accidents and disasters, but also letting them see how the landscape may have actually changed compared to any maps they may have as a result of earthquakes, avalanches, wildfires and storms. It’s a huge advantage to have on the ground in shifting emergency situations.
The Land Rover Discovery created for Project Hero also includes a sliding floor panel that can be used as a work surface in a pinch, as well as more mounting points for gear, added LED lighting to better illuminate nighttime operations, and power supply points with international plug configurations for compatibility with a range of devices.
The project’s first deployment will be at an Austrian Red Cross training center in Erzberg, which is home to mountain-based mining operations. It’s going to be doing a 12-month stint at first, starting in June, 2017, and the drone will be running simulated operations to help rescue teams evolve their potential use of the added tech.