Pothole spotting car to reduce damage and cut compensation claims

Pothole spotting car

How Jaguar Land Rover’s pothole spotting car works (Picture © JLR)

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has come up with a pothole spotting car in an effort to prevent harm to vehicles and people. It’s currently estimated that wheel, tyre and accident damage caused by potholes costs the UK around £20m every year. Eventually, JLR hopes information collected by scanners on individual vehicles will transmit information to other cars and beyond. This could enable councils to fix damage to their highways as quickly as possible, saving money and possibly, lives. 

Pothole spotting car: How it works

The company’s Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport research vehicles use sophisticated sensors beneath the car. These can profile the road surface. They are also clever enough to identify the location and severity of potentially car-damaging obstructions such as holes, large cracks and raised or broken manhole covers. The computer monitoring the road also controls the suspension. The system, called MagneRide, continually adjusts this to compensate for damaged road surfaces.

Pothole spotting car: What are the advantages?

The big advantage is that by warning drivers about severe road damage early enough to take avoiding action, they can prevent damage to the vehicle. This is currently a big problem for drivers. Latest research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance which monitors the country’s roads shows drivers claim for damage to their vehicles caused by potholes every 11 minutes.

Pothole spotting car: What about the future?

Jaguar Land Rover believes the technology could be taken a step further. Dr Mike Bell, the company’s global connected car director added: “While it 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.”

Pothole spotting car: What else is Jaguar Land Rover planning?

At JLR’s Advanced Research Centre near Coventry, boffins are developing an advanced forward facing camera. Dr Bell said: “At the moment the most accurate data comes from when the car has driven over the pothole or manhole. We are also researching how we could improve the measurement and accuracy of pothole detection by scanning the road ahead. The car could then predict how severe the pothole is before the vehicle gets near them. 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.”

Pothole spotting car: Other advantages

JLR believes that eventually the data collected by car drivers should be shared with local authorities. They could then send repair teams out to fix the potholes, hopefully before they’ve caused any damage. The car firm already has plans to work with its local council in Coventry. Councillor Rachel Lancaster from Coventry City Council said: “This could give us a very accurate, minute-by-minute picture of damage to road surfaces, manholes and drains in real time.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.”

Pothole spotting car: Why this is important

Currently Britain is faced with a plague of potholes. It’s estimated it will take councils in England and Wales more than £12bn to get the local road network back into a reasonable state. One in six roads is classed as being in poor condition.

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