Each year, potholes claim the lives of too many wheels, hub caps, tires, suspension pieces, spilled coffees, and even entire cars or trucks! Land Rover, champions of social justice have just announced they are testing a new technology to cut down on the damage potholes inflict on our unsuspecting vehicles.
The first version, aptly named ‘Pothole Alert’ is currently being tested on a Range Rover Evoque. The Pothole Alert system will use a new road surface sensing technology, including a forward-facing stereo digital camera.
The idea is founded on the principle that moving forward, many of the cars on the road will be ‘connected’, meaning at all times when a vehicle is running, it’ll be connected to the Internet in some capacity. The Pothole Alert system will use the connection to help the vehicle identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains and manhole covers, and then share this data in real-time via the cloud with other vehicles. An added bonus is the Pothole Alert system may also be able to share the information – including pictures and the GPS location – with road workers and public works departments, aiding in the timely repair of these car-eating holes.
Needless to say, getting advance warning of a pothole allows drivers a chance to avoid potentially costly damage to their vehicles or a potentially dangerous situation. If the driver is unable to avoid the pothole, the Range Rover Evoque or Discover Sport would simply take advantage of the data and adjust the suspension to lessen the blow to the vehicle if unable to avoid the hole, also providing a more comfortable ride. Land Rover has already said the pothole information will most likely be shared with all other cars connected to the cloud, not just Land Rovers.
This technology will also go a long way in the ongoing research into autonomous vehicles.
I can’t help but be interested in this technology on one hand, but also be a little wary of a technology that makes significant adjustments on-the-fly to a vehicle I’m currently operating. It also has the potential of being just one more technology to take the onus off of the driver.
If you’re a little like me, and a little bit of an auto-tech luddite, you may be content to settle for this excellent pothole survival guide by our very own, Justin Pritchard.