Speak to any motorist who's spent time navigating Britain's rural B-roads and you'll probably set them off on a tirade about journey-ruining, tyre-shredding, pothole-riddled roads.
But Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) might just have the answer to these tarmac-based woes after revealing research into using cloud and connected car technology to enable vehicles to identify the location of potholes and broken manhole covers and share that knowledge with other motorists.
Pothole Alert has the potential to save motorists billions of pounds a year on punctures and vehicle repairs, according to JLR.
The system is an evolution of the MagneRide technology found in the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport, which uses sensors to profile the road surface and monitor vehicle motion and changes in suspension height.
The system then adjusts the suspension to give passengers a comfortable ride when they are travelling on rough or damaged roads.
Dr Mike Bell, global connected car director at JLR, said the Pothole Alert research stemmed from the potential the company saw for wider use of the information harvested by the MagneRide system.
"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," he said.
Bell explained that the most accurate data comes from vehicles that have already driven over a pothole, but that JLR is researching ways to scan the road ahead to provide data on such obstacles so that action can be taken before a vehicle reaches them.
JLR said that such alert systems could be used to deliver pothole and road damage data to local councils via the cloud to inform them of road sections in need of repair, something the carmaker is working on with Coventry City Council.
The Pothole Alert research is an example of connected car and cloud technology being explored in a granular and very practical way, rather than from a high-concept and large-scale perspective, in turn helping to inject a ‘real-world' element into modern and often nebulous technology.
That being said, Bell noted that JLR's research is a stepping stone towards developing autonomous vehicle systems and driverless cars, and will help make autonomous driving "a safe and enjoyable reality".
Driverless cars might seem to some like a far-fetched concept lifted from the pages of science fiction novels.
But the fact that Google's driverless cars have been involved in only 11 minor accidents in six years, none of which was the car's fault, and having clocked up thousands of miles of autonomous driving, suggests that driverless cars will be on UK roads sooner than many would have predicted.
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