This Phone-Controlled Range Rover Helps You Get Out of a Jam
Never mind those dreams of using a handheld device to steer your car from the back seat, James Bond-style -- the real purpose of remote control may be to get your vehicle past a muddy trench.
Jaguar Land Rover is developing smartphone control technology that lets you pilot a car (in this case, a Range Rover Sport) at very low speeds while you're outside, helping you get past difficult terrain or tricky parking spots. You have to operate everything manually at the moment, but the hope is that this will eventually bring a level of push-button autonomy where you simply tap a button to get around some rocks or back out of your garage.
That may be closer than you think. The company has a Range Rover Sport test model that can autonomously perform a 180-degree turn by using sensors to detect available space, and there's plans for a "solo" model that could handle any situation by itself.
Jaguar Land Rover isn't fond of vehicles that are solely autonomous (that would "take away the fun of driving"), but the hope is that your future ride will let you engage a self-driving mode whenever a hands-on approach would be too much of a hassle. In that sense, phone-based commands are an important early step -- you aren't obliged to keep your hands on the steering wheel the entire time.