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Bring it to SA! Car that spots potholes!

2015-06-10 13:28

AN END TO SA'S POTHOLE NIGHTMARE? Pothole alert could save thousands of Rands in repair bills if used on SA's pothole-riddled roads. In an ideal world, government would fix potholes...Image: Motopress

  • ‘Pothole Alert’ could save thousands

  • Identify location, severity of potholes
  • Researchers share data with other cars

WHITLEY, England - Shredded tyres, damaged suspension or worse… Dodging potholes is a sad reality of driving on South African roads.

New technology by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) could save drivers thousands in repairs.

JLR is researching new technology that will allow a vehicle to identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains and manhole covers.

CARS TO SHARE POTHOLE DATA?

The new technology will share the data in real-time with other vehicles and road authorities.

If a car can receive a warning from another vehicle about severe potholes or broken manholes ahead, drivers would be able to slow down and avoid the danger. This could help reduce the potential for punctures, wheel and vehicle damage as well as road crash.

VIDEO: Pothole Alert - how it works

JLR's global connected car director, Dr Mike Bell, said: “Our MagneRide equipped Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport 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."

“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.”

WHAT ABOUT SA?

Will we see JLR's pothole alert in South Africa?

JLR SA said: "From urban roadworks, to lesser-travelled rural roads, potholes and broken road surfaces are a part of life for South African drivers.

"These hazards not only pose a safety risk for all road users, they are also responsible for damage ranging from punctured tyres to broken suspension components. On a busy road, multiple vehicles can fall victim to a single pothole, and before word has spread to the town councils or road maintenance authorities, unwitting drivers will have incurred millions in damage.

"At present, it is currently a research project being conducted in the UK. Should such a system go into production in the future, we will definitely test it in South Africa to ensure it works in local conditions and on local roads."

PREDICTING POTHOLES

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

Bell said: “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, so the car could predict how severe they are before the vehicle 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 minimise the impact. This could all help make future autonomous driving a safe and enjoyable reality.”

JLR will work with the 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 prioritise repairs.

MORE FROM JLR

The project will also investigate whether JLR's experimental camera could take an image of a pothole or damaged manhole and share this with road authorities.

Pothole Alert joins other projects including autonomous driving.

Other research projects from the centre include Bike Sense, a concept technology that uses lights, sound, and haptic feedback to alert drivers of approaching bicycles or motorcycles.

Another concept that makes use of forward-facing camera systems is Transparent Pillar, which improves safety by feeding video to in-car monitors mounted on the A-pillars, giving drivers an unimpeded view of their surroundings.

HOW IT WORKS: The Range Rover scans the road ahead and videos it from a camera in the rear-view mirror while the front wheels react and transmit the shock effect of the pothole. Via the internet 'cloud', a warning is transmitted to following vehicles. Image: JLR


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