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Jaguar Land Rover self-driving cars hit real roads for first time

The cars are also capable of communicating with local infrastructure.

Land Rover

It's one thing to say your company has tested self-driving cars on closed circuits. It's another thing to say that your company has successfully tested those cars on public roads. Now, another automaker is moving from the former statement toward the latter.

Jaguar Land Rover announced Friday that it will test its self-driving vehicles on public roads in the United Kingdom. Its vehicles will amble around Coventry as its engineers assess the systems and prepare this technology for an eventual public debut -- which is still years away, it should be noted.

If you see a wacky-looking SUV rolling around Coventry, now you know what it is.

Jaguar Land Rover

The vehicles in question are based off the Range Rover Sport, which Land Rover has showed off in past months. Many self-driving vehicles carry loads of large, ungainly hardware, but the RR Sport looks pretty tame by comparison, playing host to a few sensors on the bumpers and a roof rack atop the car. As with many other tests, a safety driver sits in the front seat in case human intervention is required.

At the same time, JLR is testing vehicle-to-x communication. Using a fleet of Jaguar F-Pace crossovers, these vehicles are capable of communicating with other cars and local infrastructure. The cars can, theoretically, warn a driver if another car encountered a pothole up ahead, if there's road construction on a normal commute route or if there's an optimal speed to ensure that the car hits rolling green lights.

JLR says it will continue to test these systems in Coventry through 2018, as its engineers refine and hone the underlying tech in anticipation of an eventual rollout in mass-produced vehicles. Taking its testing to public roads is only the beginning.