Land Rover Builds a Special Discovery to Help Save Lives

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“Project Hero” Version of the Land Rover Discovery Features Drone That Can Take Off From and Land on the Vehicle, Even While Moving.

We were lucky enough to attend the media launch of the 2017 Land Rover Discovery. On the asphalt, sand, and rocks of the American West, we learned just how comfortable and capable the reborn SUV is. The new Project Hero version of the Discovery that Land Rover has on display at the Geneva Motor Show is an orange and white example of just how helpful it can be.

Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) created this special Discovery to aid the Austrian Red Cross in efforts to recover victims of disasters and accidents. Land Rover’s relationship with the Red Cross as a whole is nothing new. The two organizations have been working together since 1954. Over the past 60+ years, Land Rover has supplied the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) with 120 vehicles for use in all parts of the world.

Project Hero, on the other hand, is. According to Land Rover, “Project Hero is the first [Land Rover] with a roof-mounted drone. A fully integrated landing system featuring self-centring and magnetic retention technology is a world-first that enables the drone to land on Project Hero when the vehicle is in motion.”

From a safe, bird’s-eye view, that drone can transmit footage – including thermal imaging – of the aftermath of disasters such as earthquakes, mudslides, and avalanches to the Austrian Red Cross’s recovery teams. The safer they are, the easier and quicker it is for them to help the victims of such tragedies.

Other bits of gear on the Project Hero Discovery include a heavy duty sliding floor in the back that can be used as a work surface or as protection for the gear under it, a panel behind the rear seats that Red Cross crew members can mount equipment on, multi-frequency radio equipment, LED lighting for nighttime recoveries, and power outlets that can fit plugs from different parts of the world.

The Austrian Red Cross will use the Project Hero Discovery to respond to natural disasters in multiple locations for 12 months, starting this June. The drone will primarily be used to help develop disaster relief techniques and as part of test-runs of disaster scenarios, such as those that occur at night or in dense forests.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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