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Real-time pothole warning system

May 04, 2017
Costly car repairs could be avoided with the help of an ingenious virtual pothole map being developed by Ford.

Testing is due to start later this year. The map will show drivers, in real time, where potholes are, how bad they are, and suggest alternative routes.  

Last winter is expected to set records as the worst ever in some parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures, ice and snow likely to lead to more cracked and potholed roads. Bad road surfaces contribute to more than a third of all accidents every year.  

In the UK alone, a pothole damage claim is received by local authorities every 17 minutes – with claims averaging £432. In 2011, 20 million potholes were reported in Europe, but only half were filled.   

“Our cars already feature sensors that detect potholes and now we are looking at taking this to the next level,” said Uwe Hoffmann, Research Engineer, Advanced Chassis Control Technologies, Ford of Europe. “A virtual pothole map could highlight a new pothole the minute it appears and almost immediately warn other drivers that there is a hazard ahead.”   

Ford models including Galaxy, Mondeo and S-MAX already use on-board sensors for Continuously Controlled Damping with Pothole Mitigation, which detects potholes using sensors and adjusts the suspension to help reduce any potential damage.  

Engineers are now researching the use of cameras and embedded modems, at the Ford Research and Innovation Centre, in Aachen, Germany. Together, these technologies would gather detailed information on the potholes and beam it to the ‘cloud’ where it can be made available to other drivers – in real time.  

Further research is also exploring the use of an active suspension system designed to massively reduce the severity of bumps and rough road surfaces.  

Ford tests new cars on a nightmare 1.2mile road at Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium, using replicas of some of the world’s worst potholes.  

Photo: Ford testing at the Lommel Proving Ground 


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