Land Rover's Project Hero SUV launches a drone to aid rescue workers

A specially outfitted Discovery was designed for the Austrian Red Cross.

Land Rover

It's no secret that drones are useful for surveying situations where it might be too dangerous for a human to tread. This includes tough terrain that search and rescue teams encounter and Jaguar Land Rover built a vehicle to lend a hand. The company's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit designed and built a unique version of its Discovery SUV for use by the Austrian Red Cross. Officially called Project Hero, the vehicle features a roof-mounted drone landing system.

What's more, Project Hero's drone setup has self-centering and magnetic retention tech that allows a small UAV to land while the vehicle is in motion. Jaguar Land Rover says this is the first system of its kind. Once airborne, the drone can send live footage of an area to rescue teams so they can respond more efficiently in situations like earthquakes, landslides and avalanches.

To further aid rescuers, the floor in the back of the Discovery slides out to make a mobile work surface and its heavy duty material protects any gear stored underneath. The vehicle is also equipped with power and a range of plug configurations to fit several different regions as well as all the requisite radio gear needed to maintain contact in remote locations.

For now, Project Hero will be based at the Red Cross training center in Erzberg before making the move to Vienna in June. The vehicle will be used in simulations to help develop new methods and on test runs for complex rescue scenarios like natural disasters. Jaguar Land Rover says the Red Cross will also use the SUV when it provides support following certain events. If the automaker's other research is any indication, future versions of Project Hero could also be autonomous over any terrain.