Pothole alert may save you heaps
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JAGUAR LAND ROVER WORKS ON A SYSTEM THAT SCANS ROADS FOR AXLE-BREAKING HAZARDS
Driving into a pothole can land motorists with a hefty repair bill. But that might soon be a thing of the past thanks to technology developed by Jaguar Land Rover.
The carmaker is creating a system that can help drivers dodge hazards by scanning uneven surfaces in the road ahead and warning them of potential problems.
The company hopes that “connected” cars of the future equipped with its “pothole alert” system will identify poor road conditions and share their location through the cloud so other drivers can take evasive action.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is working with local authorities on the project and hopes that by creating a digital map of problem roads councils can see which areas are most in need of repair, making maintenance faster and more efficient.
As well as potholes, JLR’s system will locate broken manhole covers and other hazards which could damage vehicles.
The system is just another step down the road to self-driving cars which will take control from humans and hand it over to computers.
At the moment, JLR envisions the pothole alert warning human drivers of hazards so they could slow down and avoid dangers, while letting advanced suspension systems automatically adjust their settings to smooth out the ride.
As well as cutting repair bills, pothole alert could help reduce the number of accidents on the roads.
Drivers who swerve to avoid potholes at the last minute often end up colliding with other motorists.
JLR’s advanced development centre is planning to install new road surface sensing technology in a research vehicle, including a forward-facing stereo digital camera.
By connecting it to GPS, the system could map the location of the pothole and broadcast it to other cars.
JLR’s Range Rover off-roaders can already be specified with sensors that detect potholes and broken drain covers as the vehicles drive over them, allowing their suspension to instantly adapt.
Dr Mike Bell, connected-car director at JLR, said: “At the moment the most accurate data comes from when the car has driven over the pothole or manhole, so we are also researching how we could improve the measurement and accuracy of pothole detection by scanning the road ahead. That way the car could predict how severe the hazards are before the vehicle gets near them.
“Ultimately, sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car.
“In the future, we are looking to develop systems that could automatically guide a car around potholes without the car leaving its lane and causing a danger to other drivers. If the hazard were significant enough, safety systems could slow or even stop the car to minimise the impact.”
Coventry-based JLR — which is owned by India’s Tata — intends to share the data the project delivers with its local council to improve road repairs.
This could include emailing pictures of the obstacles to the council so its engineers can assess their severity and work out how urgently they need to be fixed.