How it's Done
Being able to see through your car's hood is actually pretty simple. First, be born on the dying planet Krypton and have your parents send you to Earth, where our yellow sun will give you superpowers. Failing that, have some sort of accident in a science lab that results in you gaining x-ray vision.
The Land Rover invisible hood works with cameras and a heads-up display in the windshield. Cameras are mounted in the Land Rover Discovery Vision's grille. The images those cameras capture are then projected onto a heads-up display on the car's windshield. The effect is such that when you look down through the windshield, the hood is blocked by the display, effectively disappearing because the ground below it is projected on top of it.
With the invisible hood, the driver has a much clearer view of where the wheels are, which makes climbing a steep incline or nosing along a thin trail much easier. The technology has less rugged uses too: It makes turning into a small space, say a garage, much easier. This means that the blonde in the yoga pants will be far less likely to hit her husband's golf clubs when she pulls into the garage, because the car will no longer block her view of the ground directly in front of her.
The invisible hood is just one more system that Land Rover offers to make off-roading easier. Not only do all Land Rovers have systems that change how the vehicle reacts to various driving surfaces, but they also have available camera systems that let their drivers see what all four wheels are up to. The invisible hood is special, however, because it projects the image on the car's windshield, so the driver doesn't have to turn and look at a video display. Land Rover also has off-road systems that automatically control the brakes and throttle when driving down a steep hill, making any off-road journey safer, and allowing anyone, even the Queen of England, to look like an off-road pro.
While Land Rover hasn't announced any plans yet to bring the invisible hood to production, it's an interesting idea — and one that may appeal to people beyond off-roaders. After all, lots of people scoffed at backup cameras, too, and now it's been proven that they help reduce the likelihood of serious accidents [source: IIHS]. Land Rovers are big SUVs, and it can be tough to see what's directly in front of you when driving one. An invisible hood could prevent people from unintentionally driving over a small child. And, at the very least, it might make parking a lot easier.
Author's Note: How the Land Rover Invisible Hood Works
Land Rovers are some of my favorite cars, and each time I test-drive one, I am struck by how complex and smart they've become. Just dial-in the kind of conditions you're facing, and the SUV takes care of it. What's striking about the invisible hood, however, is how simple it is. Ask me to explain hill descent control, and I'm going to need several hundred words to do it. The invisible hood? It's just cameras and a display. Makes me wonder why no one ever thought of it before.
- Bloomberg. "See Through Your Hood Driving Next-Gen Land Rover." April 16, 2014. (Oct. 27, 2014) http://www.bloomberg.com/video/see-through-your-hood-driving-next-gen-land-rover-8h1XnLdFQTCRkXRM1w_xYQ.html
- Bort, Julie. "Land Rover Has Invented a 'Transparent' Car." Business Insider. April 9, 2014. (Oct. 27, 2014) http://www.businessinsider.com/land-rover-invented-a-disappearing-hood-2014-4
- George, Alexander. "Land Rover's New Invention Lets You See Through Your Car's Hood." Wired. April 9, 2014. (Oct. 27, 2014) http://www.wired.com/2014/04/land-rover-invisible-hood/
- Hackett, Kevin. "Land Rover: The Sands of Time." The Telegraph. March 28, 2008. (Dec. 31, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2751397/Land-Rover-The-sands-of-time.html
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). "Rearview Camera Rule Aims to Reduce Backover Crashes." May 29, 2014. (Dec. 31, 2014) http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/49/4/4
- Jaguar/Land Rover USA. "Land Rover Consumer Website." (Dec. 31, 2014) http://www.landroverusa.com/index.html
- Jaguar/Land Rover USA. "Land Rover Debuts 'See-Through' Virtual Imaging Technology in Discovery Vision Concept." April 9, 2014. (Oct. 27, 2014) http://newsroom.jaguarlandrover.com/en-in/land-rover/news/2014/04/lr_dvc_tease_technology_090414/
- McCarthy, A.J. "Land Rover Unveils Transparent Hood, Wins Over Sci-Fi Fans Everywhere." Slate. April 9, 2014. (Oct. 27, 2014) http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/04/09/land_rover_transparent_bonnet_invisible_hood_from_land_rover_revealed_prior.html