Jaguar Land Rover is busy working on a revolutionary new technology, which allows vehicles to identify potholes and share the data in real-time to alert authorities and other drivers.
The idea is that if a car can receive warnings from another vehicle about oncoming potholes or broken manholes, the driver will be able to avoid the hole or adjust suspension settings to ride it out.
Reducing the potential for punctures, wheel and vehicle damage, as well as road accidents, it could also help local councils fix damaged roads more quickly, by identifying the most-used road sections.
Could reduce vehicle damage and road accidents
Dr Mike Bell, JLR’s global connected car director, said: “Our MagneRide equipped Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport vehicles feature sophisticated sensors that allow the vehicle to profile the road surface under the wheels and identify potholes, raised manholes and broken drain covers.
“While this gives our customers a more comfortable ride, we think there is a huge opportunity to turn the information from these vehicle sensors into ‘big data’ and share it for the benefit of other road users. “
He added: “This could help prevent billions of pounds of vehicle damage and make road repairs more effective.”
The next stage of development includes fitting the new surface-sensing technology to a Range Rover Evoque research vehicle, in order to test the idea in real-world environments.
Jaguar Land Rover’s research team will be working closely with Coventry City Council to understand how the information gathered could be shared with road authorities, and what data would be most useful to maintenance teams.
Councillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services at Coventry City Council said that data is already collected on potholes, but the new technology could vastly improve repair times.
“We already collect lots of data which we monitor very carefully ourselves,” she said, “but having this kind of extra information might allow us to further improve our maintenance programmes which would save the taxpayer money.
“This is just the sort of information that could help us identify the cause of the problem, prioritise it and contact the owner of the manhole or drain to get it fixed more quickly.”
Local councils on board
Dr Bell added: “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 pothole hazard was significant enough, safety systems could slow or even stop the car to minimize the impact. This could all help make future autonomous driving a safe and enjoyable reality.”