Roads are not smooth as silk everywhere. In fact, there are stretches even in the developed world, where it can be quite bad. Of course, in the other parts of the world, even in the cities, roads are often full of potholes. The bumpy ride, as a result, isn’t just an inconvenience, these potholes can cause damage to the car’s engine as well.
There is finally some respite for drivers and passengers moving on bumpy roads. The Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) from Michigan in the United States, have revealed they are developing technology that will alert drivers about potholes.
How Pothole Detection Will Work
The automaker says cars will come equipped with in-built sensors and cameras that will keep scanning the road continuously and collect pothole data, which will then be displayed on other drivers’ dashboards. A real-time map will then be developed to help the drivers navigate and avoid the potholes. The technology for this is currently being developed at the company’s research facilities at Aachen in Germany. It was also learned that the first crowd-sourced map may be released later this year.
A research engineer working at Ford said, “A virtual pothole map could highlight a new pothole the minute it appears and almost immediately warns other drivers that there is a hazard ahead. Our cars already have feature sensors that detect potholes and now we are looking at taking this to the next level”. A few Ford models use sensors already to detect potholes and then adjust the suspension of the car to reduce damage.
Ford’s system may even suggest alternative routes that will offer a smoother ride. However, the experts are not sure about this. Many feel it may not always be possible to suggest an alternative route to avoid the potholes. It may not be practical as well, as all drivers will then take the alternative route, causing congestion. They are also pointing out that it might be cheaper to improve the road surface instead.
There is also concern that Ford’s (NYSE:F) technology may not work on snow and ice.
Other Efforts to Detect Potholes and Warn Drivers
But frankly, pothole-sensing technology has been under development for a few years now. Jaguar Land Rover announced in 2015 they are working on a system that will gather pothole information automatically by fitting the cars with sensors. Researchers at the Nottingham Trent University have been working on this as well.