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Land Rover’s New Tech Ends Pothole Pain

Now who among us doesn’t need a technology like this?

Picture the scene: You’re cruising happily along the road when suddenly… thunk! You dive right into a deep pothole.

You shudder at the beating that’s inflicted on your car’s suspension and alignment every time you crunch into one. And these days, it’s becoming far more difficult to dodge them, as more cars and extreme weather take their toll on the nation’s roads.

Auto shops must love them, but it’s safe to say that potholes have become the scourge of drivers everywhere.

But one company is aiming to end the “bounce and ride” experience forever…

Pothole Alert!

As technology advances, we’ve talked many times before about the impact that it’s having on the auto industry. Specifically, with the fast-growing driverless car trend, as well as connected cars.

However, while companies like Google (GOOGL) and Mercedes-Benz focus on making cars autonomous, and others like Vinli enhance the in-car experience for drivers and passengers, Jaguar Land Rover is developing technology that’s more fundamental to the health of our cars in the first place.

It’s working on a “Pothole Alert” system that will identify potholes before drivers uncomfortably encounter them.

Specifically, the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Evoque models will carry the technology, which uses sensors that monitor the condition of the road ahead of the car, under the wheels, and any changes in the height of the suspension. When it identifies a hazardous pothole, a broken/raised manhole cover, or a broken drain, it adjusts the suspension accordingly.

As Jaguar Land Rover’s Global Connected Car Director, Mike Bell, says, “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.”

What’s more, the technology harnesses Big Data and the connected car trend to share the information in real time with other drivers in the area, as well as traffic authorities, so they can deploy their maintenance crews to fix them.

Bell continues, “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.”

Take a look at the technology in action…

An Early-Warning Detection System for Smoother Rides

While at the moment, the technology only works when the car drives over a pothole, the next stage of Jaguar Land Rover’s project will be to further enhance the surface-sensing technology to produce more accurate, early-warning detection of serious problems before drivers encounter them. It will do that by installing a forward-facing digital stereo camera.

Says Bell, “Ultimately, sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car. In the future, we’re 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 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.”

Safe and enjoyable driving? Surely not! I’d settle for my car not getting pounded every time I go to the store!


Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

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