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JLR developing ‘connected’ pothole warning system

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is researching a new connected car technology that will allow a vehicle to identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains and manhole covers, and then share the data in real-time via the cloud with other vehicles, and with road authorities to help them prioritize repairs.

If a car can receive a warning from another vehicle about defects on the road ahead, then drivers would be able to slow down and avoid the danger, or the car could adjust suspension settings to reduce the impact and smooth the ride, helping to reduce the potential for punctures, wheel and vehicle damage, as well as road accidents.

The next stage of the project at JLR’s Advanced Research Center in the UK, is to install new road surface sensing technology in its Range Rover Evoque research vehicle, including an advanced forward-facing stereo digital camera. 

JLR’s research team will also be working with innovation partner Coventry City Council to understand how road profile information could be shared with road authorities, and exactly what data would be most useful for their roads maintenance teams to identify and prioritize repairs. The project will also investigate whether JLR’s experimental camera could take an image of the pothole or damaged manhole, and share this with the road authorities, together with a GPS location.

Dr Mike Bell, global connected car director at JLR, explained, “Our MagneRide-equipped vehicles feature sophisticated sensors that allow the vehicle to profile the road surface under the wheels and identify potholes, raised manholes and broken drain covers. 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 over uneven and damaged road surfaces. 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.”

Bell continued, “At the moment the most accurate data comes from when the car has driven over the pothole or manhole, so we are also researching how we could improve the measurement and accuracy of pothole detection by scanning the road ahead, then the car could predict how severe they are before it gets near them. Ultimately, sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car. In the future, 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. This could all help make future autonomous driving a safe and enjoyable reality.”

June 11, 2015

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