Land Rover doesn't want drivers thumping into potholes any more. It's developing a series of sensors that can detect when a car goes over a pothole and then relay that information both to local road authorities, which could go out and repair them, and to other vehicles, which could warn drivers of a pothole's presence or adjust their suspension to make travel smoother. Land Rover also says the tech will be able to detect broken drain covers and raised manhole covers, and it believes the tech will ultimately reduce damage to vehicles.
Land Rover views this as a step toward more autonomous cars
The technology isn't being built into a consumer vehicle just yet — it's still in testing on research vehicles. But building it into a car doesn't appear to require much more technology than what's already inside of them. Land Rover is adding on a forward-facing camera, potentially allowing its car to scan the road ahead, but it's also relying on information from the car's suspension and GPS to round out the picture. Once the data's been gathered, however, the car will need a way to send the information off and relay it to other vehicles, so this won't be very useful until there are a lot of connected cars on the road.
Land Rover has bigger plans for the tech down the road, as development continues. It sees detecting potholes as a step toward a more fully 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," Mike Bell, Jaguar Land Rover's connected car director, says in a statement. "If the pothole hazard was significant enough, safety systems could slow or even stop the car to minimize the impact." The initial tech is being tested in a research model of the Range Rover Evoque, but Land Rover's vision appears to include helping all connected cars with the data it gathers.