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Land Rover invents the transparent SUV for ultimate off-roading


Of all the technologies filtering into new vehicles, from self-driving sedans to onboard WiFi, automakers haven't found much use for virtual reality. It's the stuff of video games and fighter pilots, not getting stuck in rush-hour traffic. But today, Land Rover revealed a type of virtual reality technology that at first seems ridiculous, and then ingenious: Making the front of a car invisible for climbing the roughest terrain

Part of the Discovery Vision concept SUV the company will reveal at next week's New York auto show, the "transparent hood" combines cameras mounted under the vehicle with a heads-up display that runs the width of the windshield. The system allows a driver to see what's directly around the front wheels — something not that useful in everyday driving, but game-changing off-road, where climbing slowly around obstacles often requires a spotter.

Land Rover invents the transparent SUV for ultimate off-roading

The system doesn't just benefit human drivers; as automakers work on self-driving vehicles that could be on the road by the end of the decade, the biggest challenge lies in getting the car to see the road and the obstacles ahead. And there's nothing particularly outlandish about the technology Land Rover's employed; millions of cars already have cameras and heads-up displays for speed and data.

It's just an auto-show demonstration for now, but unlike most such baubles, Land Rover's transparent hood makes a strong argument as something that should move toward production. And it would give drivers one non-dangerous way to impress their passengers with that fateful command: "OK, watch this."