Potholes suck. Hitting a pothole at full speed can cause a flat tire or damage your rims. Even if you manage to avoid direct damage, driving on pothole strewn roads causes major wear-and-tear on your vehicle–wear-and-tear that could and should be avoided if possible. A new patent from Google seeks to make it more possible.
I wrote this blog post about new technology from Google designed to help drivers avoid potholes:
Google has filed a patent for new technology to identify and track potholes on the streets of the United States. The system would use a variety of sensors and location-tracking info to detect areas where the road surface is compromised and help users avoid potholes and find alternate routes.
Assuming the system works as advertised it could be a game changer in many ways. There are regional efforts already in place that try to map out potholes to proactively warn drivers, but nothing as automated or on such a grand scale as what Google is proposing. Correlating data from thousands or millions of vehicles, and integrating it automatically with Google Maps would give drivers current, real-time information they can use to avoid trouble.
I live in Houston. There are certainly areas where the roads are crumbling and a system like the one proposed by Google would come in handy—particularly in some areas of outer Houston. I’m actually a Detroiter who just happens to live in Houston, though, and I can tell you Houston has nothing on Detroit when it comes to potholes.
North of the Mason-Dixon line where they have four seasons and the road surface is subject to more extreme temperature variations driving to work is like playing a real-life version of the arcade classic Asteroids—but without the benefit of a laser cannon to annihilate the oncoming problem. The salt (or salt equivalent) used on the roads in the winter melts the ice and the water seeps into the cracks where it eventually freezes again…and expands. The constant melting and freezing of water in the crevices of the pavement compromises its integrity and potholes are born. Everywhere.
Check out the full story of Google’s proposed new pothole detection system on Forbes: Google Wants To Help You Avoid Potholes And Save Your Car.