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15 MAY 2014

  • The seventh Land Rover & Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Bursary has been awarded to the 'Grand Alpine Tour' expedition 
  • Land Rover Defender has been modified to support an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and 3D motion imaging used by the team 
  • Land Rover Defender's breadth of capability will enable the team to retrace the route of the famous Grand Alpine Tour of the 17th century, an arduous journey of over 6,000 miles across the European Alps 
  • Land Rover is at the forefront of 3D technology in the automotive industry, utilising state of the art 3D printing and Computer Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE) facilities to develop innovative features such as Terrain Scanning 

Whitley, UK- Land Rover in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is proud to announce the award of the seventh consecutive bursary to this year's winner, the 'Grand Alpine Tour'. 

The aim of the expedition is to interpret and understand the current state of the European Alps, with focus on the magnitude and frequency of landslides at high altitudes and the behaviour of these landslides with a changing climate. Geographical research will be completed using time-lapse photography and scanning techniques, utilising an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or "hexacopter" for 3D mapping from above. 

Land Rover bursary winners

The Land Rover Defenders exceptional off-road capability will enable 3D mapping to take place on the Grand Alpine Tour despite the challenging terrain. The team are pioneering a particular method of 3D mapping, capturing large quantities of aerial photographs with a UAV and digitally stitching them together to create high resolution models. The resulting models will provide new insight on small and frequent landslides which are not yet understood by scientists. 

In order to analyse how the mountains have changed over time, historic artwork of the Alps will be analysed and compared with the 3D data the team collect. This will identify areas that have suffered from landslides. This unique collaboration between science and art will document how the Alps have changed. 

Results from the research will benefit our understanding and ability to forecast landslides which pose a significant hazard in alpine environments. The research also showcases new possibilities in 3D imaging. Through the channels of the RGS-IBG, schools and education establishments will be able to use materials created from the expedition as part of the National Schools' Curriculum in the subject of Geography, with a programme called "From the Field."

The Land Rover Defender 110 has been modified with a specially designed roof platform, incorporating a pattern which acts as a reference point for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mapping software. This will allow geospatial monitoring techniques to capture mapped data, which is scaled and referenced to this location to support 3D mapping. 

The recipients are Northumbria University geographers Mark Allan, Dr. Mike Lim and Thomas Shaw, who all research geomorphological activity in alpine landscapes. The expedition route will take the team from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London to Trieste Italy and along the entire length of the Alps, travelling through France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. 

The team have completed rigorous training under the guidance of expert instructors at the Land Rover Experience centre in Eastnor, Herefordshire, to ensure they are able to cope with the unpredictable terrain and weather conditions they will encounter. 

Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director, said: "I am delighted that the Grand Alpine Tour Expedition Team are the successful recipients of this year's bursary. They have really captured the essence of the bursary which will showcase how Science, Geography and Art can work together to map changing landscapes.

"Using advanced technologies and innovation, something that is at the heart of the Land Rover brand, they will be able to detail how the Alps have changed through time. 

"The Land Rover Defender 110 will enable the team to reach the extreme areas required to complete their study of the landscape." 

Paul Rose, RGS-IBG Vice-President for Fieldwork and Expeditions, added: "The Grand Alpine Tour is an innovative, challenging and educational expedition. Not only do the team hope to unlock the mystery of small, frequent landslides, but they are also making great efforts to share their findings with wider audiences and with schools throughout the UK." 

The Land Rover Bursary was first awarded in 2007, offering funding and the use of a Land Rover Defender vehicle as part of a partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) that stretches back more than 25 years. The award is aimed at those who want to go Above and Beyond to complete a journey of exceptional challenge, and for which a Land Rover Defender, with its expert all-terrain capabilities, is an integral part of the expedition. 

More information about the journey can be found by following their expedition on their website and through social media​ and


Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Registered office: Abbey Road, Whitley, Coventry CV3 4LF. Registered in England No: 1672070

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