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Research begins on virtual pothole map for drivers

Work has begun on a new crowd-sourced virtual pothole map that will identify potholes and suggest alternative routes.

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

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

The map would give real-time pothole warnings, made possible by the use of cameras and embedded modems currently under research by Ford for its cars. The detailed information would be beamed to the cloud where it can be made available to other drivers.

“A virtual pothole map could highlight a new pothole the minute it appears and almost immediately warn other drivers that there is a hazard ahead,” said Uwe Hoffmann, research engineer, Advanced Chassis Control Technologies, Ford of Europe. “Our cars already feature sensors that detect potholes and now we are looking at taking this to the next level.”

Further research is also exploring the use of an active suspension system designed to massively reduce the severity of bumps and rough road surfaces.

In the UK alone, a pothole damage claim is received by local authorities every 17 minutes – with claims averaging £432.

The Department for Transport recently announced a £70m pothole fund for local authorities for their 2017/18 budgets in a move to fix the nation’s roads. In addition, a new pothole identifier is being trialled to help identify cracks in the road before they become potholes. The device would be attached to refuse collection vehicles and scan roads for damage. It will then feedback the results to the council for them take the necessary action.

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Natalie Middleton

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