Pothole sensor opens up real-time detection for councils


An innovative research project could soon see cars sharing real-time data on potholes with other drivers and councils, potentially slashing local authority costs.

Jaguar Land Rover’s MagneRide technology has allowed vehicles to scan the road surface and identify the severity of potholes or broken manhole covers, adjusting the car’s suspension in milliseconds to compensate for the hazard.

The development could save motorists billions in damage caused by road surfaces, in turn potentially cutting the £2.3m yearly compensation bill thought to be paid out by local authorities.

The firm is now developing technology to share the data with other cars via the cloud, while working with Coventry City Council to understand what information it would be best to share with road authorities and maintenance teams.

Cllr Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services at Coventry City Council said the technology could give ‘a very accurate, minute-by-minute picture of damage to road surfaces, manholes and drains in real time’.

‘We already collect lots of data which we monitor very carefully ourselves but having this kind of extra information might allow us to further improve our maintenance programmes which would save the taxpayer money.’

Researchers are examining whether Jaguar Land Rover’s experimental camera could take an image of the pothole or road damage, sharing this with authorities together with a GPS location.

‘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,’ Cllr Lancaster added.

Efforts are also underway to install road surface sensing technology that would support systems that could guide a car around potholes without leaving its lane.

Dr Mike Bell, Global Connected Car Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said the technology would be ‘a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car’.

The cost of vehicle damage caused by potholes in the UK is thought to reach £2.8bn every year, Jaguar said.

An FOI request from the RAC Foundation revealed councils dealt with 48,664 compensation claims over the 2013/14 financial year related to vehicle damage, paying out £3.2m.

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