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Land Rover Builds Discovery Rescue Vehicle For Austrian Red Cross

3 October 2018 - motor1

Land Rover Builds Discovery Rescue Vehicle For Austrian Red Cross

The drone-equipped mobile command center stands out at the Paris Motor Show.

Nestled among the vehicles debuting at this year's Paris Motor Show is a rather special Land Rover Discovery. Most people are accustomed to seeing the mid-size luxury SUV prowling strip malls or snazzy restaurant parking lots, but Land Rover actually has a relationship with the Austrian Red Cross that dates back to 1954. That's why this particular Discovery is decked out with red and yellow trim, not to mention the familiar Red Cross markings that identify this as a rescue vehicle. But there's quite a bit more to it than that.

In fact, Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations spent 18 months working with the Austrian Red Cross to bring this machine to life. It was built from the original Project Hero concept vehicle we saw way back in the spring of 2017 at the Geneva Motor Show, which garnered attention thanks to its cool deployable drone, among other things. This newest Discovery is no concept – it is already in service with Austrian Red Cross and yes, the deployable drone is still a key feature for this special rescue vehicle.

The drone rides atop a special Expedition roof rack that also has a bank of multiple-frequency radio antennas, two mobile WiFi hotspots and a satellite phone. The drone itself is fitted with a long-range thermal imaging camera that can detect the heat a vehicle from over a half-mile away, or a single person from over a quarter-mile. Drone operators can then track objects simply by tapping them on a touchscreen video feed, delivering specific coordinates to the target in the process.

That's actually the goal of this rescue vehicle – reducing search-and-rescue times. As such, this specially equipped Discovery basically becomes a forward command center during emergencies with its search capability and bank of onboard communication systems. And since it's a Land Rover, it is rather adept at getting to places a normal van wouldn't be able to reach.

"Since we started collaborating in 1954, our aim has been to help the Red Cross improve its disaster response and ultimately to help save lives," said Michael Van Der Sande, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations. "Over the past 18 months our engineers have worked closely with the emergency response team at the Austrian Red Cross, deploying Land Rover's technology and talent to create a unique solution to the requirements of the Red Cross in the region."

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