(Bloomberg) -- Jaguar Land Rover is testing a Range Rover that uses a smartphone application to drive through streams and over rocky patches in the latest self-driving technology that doesn't require someone to be at the wheel.
The Range Rover Sport steers, accelerates, brakes and makes U-turns with the driver walking alongside the SUV to help it negotiate rocky or steep terrain. Away from the backwoods, drivers can use the app to steer the vehicle into and out of tight parking spots, JLR said Tuesday in a statement.
"Getting a car out of a tricky parking maneuver can be a stressful experience for any driver," Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover's director of research and technology, said in a statement. Features provided by the app demonstrate "how we could use these new technologies to reduce the tedious parts of driving and improve road safety."
The technology is similar to a system unveiled last week by BMW in the newest version of its flagship 7-series sedan. The 7 series features a touch-screen key for remote-control parking in tight spots.
The JLR remote-control app is only usable when the driver is within 10 meters (30 feet) of the car, and the maximum speed will be 6 kilometers (4 miles) per hour. It's expected to require only "small" changes to auto-safety and insurance regulations because the user would still be in full control of the vehicle, said Nick O'Donnell, a company spokesman.
Jaguar Land Rover is still testing the system and looking at installing it as a feature starting in about 2020, O'Donnell said.
Premium-auto manufacturers have been stressing that increasingly self-driving cars will still be enjoyable to use. Automakers including BMW and Daimler are adding self-piloting aids such as stop-and-go assistance, which automatically match a vehicle's speed to the car in front, as well as systems to avoid collisions with pedestrians.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler estimated last week that electronics and digital features will become just as important as horsepower to carmakers' product value by the end of the decade.
Epple said autonomous car technologies will not take away the fun of driving. "The same sensors and systems that will help an autonomous car make the right decisions will assist the driver and enhance the experience to help prevent accidents," he said.