VIDEO | Pothole-busting car detects craters
A car that can spot dangerous potholes in the road and help the driver avoid them is being developed and tested by Jaguar Land Rover.
Engineers believe it could help save lives while reducing the estimated £20million compensation claims for damage and injury faced by councils in England last year.
The Jaguar Land Rover ‘pothole alert’ system can even transmit information gleaned by scanners in the car so that other vehicles on the same road are aware of the hazardous crater well before they reach it.
Dr Mike Bell, JLR’s global ‘connected car’ director, said that by giving other drivers a warning about severe potholes or broken manholes ahead, drivers will be able to slow down and avoid the danger.
The luxury car firm’s Range Rover Evoque research vehicle can identify the location and severity of potholes and broken manhole covers and adjust suspension in a fraction of a second to mitigate the worst effects.
‘Our 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,’ he said.
‘By monitoring the motion of the vehicle and changes in the height of the suspension, the car is able to continuously adjust the vehicle’s suspension characteristics, giving passengers a more comfortable ride over uneven and damaged road surfaces.
‘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.
‘This could help prevent billions of pounds of vehicle damage and make road repairs more effective.’
JLR’s Advanced Research Centre near Coventry will install new road surface sensing technology in the Range Rover Evoque research vehicle including an advanced forward-facing stereo digital camera.
Dr Bell 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, so the car could predict how severe they are before the vehicle gets near them.’
He continued: ‘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.’
Sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is ‘a key building block’ in the development of self-driving autonomous car in which JLR is playing a key part in the UK, he added.
JLR’s research team will also be working with Coventry City Council to understand how road profile information could be shared with road authorities, and exactly what data would be most useful for their roads maintenance teams to identify and prioritise repairs.
Councillor Rachel Lancaster, Cabinet Member for Public Services at Coventry City Council said: ‘We will be investigating how Jaguar Land Rover’s Pothole Alert system could supply us with data in real-time from thousands of connected cars right across our road network.
‘This could give us a very accurate, minute-by-minute picture of damage to road surfaces, manholes and drains in real time.
‘We already collect lots of data which we monitor very carefully ourselves but having this kind of extra information might allow us to further improve our maintenance programmes which would save the taxpayer money.
‘We are just beginning to explore how we could use this technology, but data that includes the severity of the issue, its exact location and an image has huge potential.
‘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.