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Ford tests virtual pothole map

Ford is testing a system that will warn drivers about potholes ahead.

Ford is testing a system that will warn drivers about potholes ahead.

Ford is testing a crowd-sourced virtual pothole map that will show drivers, in real-time on in-car displays, where potholes are, how bad they are, and suggest alternative routes.

The motoring company says as potholes can lead to accidents and expensive damage claims, it is researching ways to alert drivers in-car before they hit them, with testing to start in Germany later this year.

"A virtual pothole map could highlight a new pothole the minute it appears and almost immediately warn other drivers there is a hazard ahead," says Uwe Hoffmann, a research engineer at Ford of Europe.

"Our cars already feature sensors that detect potholes and now we are looking at taking this to the next level."

Hoffmann refers to the Ford Galaxy, Mondeo and S-MAX models, which use on-board sensors that detect potholes and adjust the suspension to help reduce potential damage.

Engineers are now researching the use of cameras and embedded modems. "Together, these technologies would gather detailed information on the potholes and beam it to the cloud – where it can be made available to other drivers – in real-time," Ford said in a statement.

Further research is exploring the use of an active suspension system designed to reduce the severity of bumps and rough road surfaces.

The company already tests new cars on a 1.9km road at Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium, using replicas of some of the world's worst potholes.

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