Your Ford could get you out of a hole

Potholing used to be an extreme sport – now spotting and avoiding potholes has become part of everyday driving if you want to avoid damaged tyres or even more costly repairs.

But an ingenious, crowd‑sourced virtual pothole map, which Ford is researching, with testing due to start later this year could make life easier. The map would show drivers, in real-time, on in-car displays, where potholes are, how bad they are, and suggest alternative routes.

This winter is expected to set records as the worst ever in some parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures, ice, and snow likely lead to more cracked and potholed roads. Bad road surfaces contribute to more than a third of all accidents every year.

In the UK alone, a pothole damage claim is received by local authorities every 17 minutes – with claims averaging £432. In 2011, 20 million potholes were reported in Europe but only half were filled.

Cold, ice, and snow all cause roads to freeze, thaw, and ultimately break apart, a situation compounded by heavy spring rain that fills the holes – spelling trouble for the 16 million motorists who hit the road for the Easter break.

Ford models including Galaxy, Mondeo and S-MAX already use on-board sensors for Continuously Controlled Damping with Pothole Mitigation, which detects potholes using sensors and adjusts the suspension to help reduce any potential damage.

Engineers at the Ford Research and Innovation Centre, in Aachen, Germany, are now researching the use of cameras and embedded modems that would gather detailed information on the potholes and beam it to the cloud – where it can be made available to other drivers – in real time.

Ford already tests new cars on a nightmare 1.2‑mile road at Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium, using replicas of some of the world’s worst potholes. 


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