RAC Cars News


Jaguar Land Rover Tackles Pothole Problem In Britain

By raccars Published

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JR engineers have been working on new technology to help British drivers avoid pothole damage. The system can detect potholes, alert other drivers to their presence and even notify local councils of their locations.

The company hopes that using the 'Pothole Alert' feature will help reduce the country's £20 million pothole damage compensation bill and even save lives. Potholes regularly cause damage, such as punctures and suspension problems, and even contribute to a number of road accidents and insurance claims. JLR claims that by broadcasting the location of potholes in the area, other drivers will be able to avoid them and other potential car damaging problems, such as broken manhole covers.

A prototype of the feature has been tested on the firm's Range Rover Evoque research vehicle. On detecting a pothole, the system automatically adjusts the car's suspension to cope with the terrain, which takes only a fraction of a second. This same technology is already used to monitor road surfaces and provide the most comfortable ride possible over uneven terrain, but JLR saw the opportunity of applying it to its 'Pothole Alert' system.

The project has been developed at the company's Coventry based Advanced Research Centre. The next stage of development is to install a forward facing camera into the research vehicle and use it to scan the road ahead and apply pothole avoidance technology in advance. The ultimate aim is to create an automatic avoidance system, which would detect a pothole ahead and steer the car around it without disturbing other cars on the road. The same system would brake or stop the car if it encounters larger hazards.

The ability to interpret the conditions of upcoming roads and detect potential hazards is one of the most significant features of autonomous driving technology, into which JLR is dedicating a lot of research. In this case, it is collaborating with Coventry City Council to discover how it can share the information gathered by 'Pothole Alert' with local councils, to allow them to determine what repairs are needed and prioritise the work. The council believes that real time data gathered by thousands of cars using its road network could save it a significant amount of money in identifying potholes and other road damage.

Not only have compensation payments for pothole damaged cars doubled with the increase in potholes to 2.7 million, but there are a number of associated costs to deal with the claims. Councils are spending 225 man hours every month dealing with pothole compensation claims alone, at a cost of £17.8 million.

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