Before we were asked to put our cameras away for the drive around the factory, I got this last one of the boxy dashboard in the Defender. The whole truck changed very little in its 67-year production run.
The 200 or so employees that work in this building are on hand to deal with whatever issues the robots determine they're having. If one of the machines senses it's having an issue, it stops and flags a human to help out.
As the proud new owner of an 1988 Range Rover, it was fascinating to see the internals like this, especially the transfer case that just cost me $2,000 to rebuild. Ah, the joy of classic car ownership.
This is a representation of the styling studio where the final iconic design was finalized. If you look closely you can see slightly different designs for the hood and grille on the left and right sides of the truck.
To get acquainted with what's possible in these vehicles, Dave, my instructor, took us around part of the course. Here you can see the Defender in a mirror, making its way up a pockmarked hill, showing off every inch of its wheel travel.
The Defender is a vehicle from a vastly different era. Stepping into a new Discovery was like time travel. From buttons, switches and analog gauges, to massive touchscreens, video cameras and heads-up displays.
We didn't do a water crossing in the Discovery, but Land Rover sent along a photo of what that would have looked like. I figure my stint doing this in the Defender looked about the same, just a bit more... boxy.
What I think is the most clever new bit of tech is the ability to see your car essentially from above. It uses all the cameras around the car to stitch together an "aerial" view so you can navigate close obstacles like tree stumps or shopping carts.
If you take the full-day course, you can drive this complex rock crawl. For the half-day there's not enough time to do the training, so you're driven down instead. Still cool. You can see the factory ahead. All this takes place within the factory grounds, but this is one of the only places you actually see the buildings.
I couldn't get a good picture of a truck on the pivot bridge, so here's one from Land Rover. You drive on from above, then inch forward until the bridge pivots over, letting you drive down. It's... weird.
The trick with doing this is having a four-wheel-drive system that is smart enough not to send all the power to that wheel, so it just spins. That's what would happen in most cars, where the wheel with the least friction gets the most power.