Jaguar Land Rover unveils pothole detection technology

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has unveiled a new ‘Pothole Alert’ research project which could see information on road conditions detected and shared with other parties via the cloud. 

According to the Whitley-based carmaker, the MagneRide sensing technology enables vehicles to calculate the location and severity of potholes, broken drains and manhole covers. This data could then be shared with other vehicles as a warning, or with road authorities to help prioritise repairs.

Data on road conditions is collected by vehicle sensors and can be shared via the cloud
Data on road conditions is collected by vehicle sensors and can be shared via the cloud

“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, giving passengers a more comfortable ride over uneven and damaged road surfaces,” said Dr Mike Bell, global connected car director, Jaguar Land Rover.

“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.”

Currently all data is collected directly from the road as a vehicle passes over an anomaly, but JLR is planning tests with its Range Rover Evoque research vehicle using forward-facing stereo digital camera technology that can scan the road ahead and assess potential hazards.

“Ultimately, sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car,” continued Dr Bell.

“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 is also working with Coventry City Council to see how sensor data could be shared, as well as how images and GPS locations taken with JLR’s stereo camera could be used by authorities to improve maintenance and repairs.

“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,” said councillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services at Coventry City Council.

“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.”