Getting out on to Australia’s country roads and tracks is one of the great joys of the grey nomad lifestyle but it’s not always peaches and cream, especially when you run into the Outback traveller’s ultimate nemesis … the pothole!
Sure, bulldust, corrugations, stones, and the odd crevice in the road, are all part of the adventure … but the adventure gets a lot less fun when you’re constantly plunging into suspension-busting potholes.
Given the vast scale of the Outback road network, the brutal weather, and the limited funding, it’s a fair bet though that potholes are going to be a feature of Outback travel for a good few years yet. But that doesn’t mean that adventurers have to simply grin and bear it.
If we’re not going to fill in all of the potholes, we’ve just got to learn to avoid them … and a shiny new technology is potentially going to help us do just that.
Auto giant Mercedes-Benz has been investing heavily in its Car-to-X system, which shares data from vehicles via its own cloud system. Now the car maker has announced the technology is getting an upgrade, with new models able to directly warn drivers of potholes in the road ahead.
If a suitably equipped car hits a pothole, it will be detected by the system because of a sudden compression and rebound of the suspension on the front axle, followed by the same on the rear axle.
The vehicle’s Car-to-X system will then send an alert to the Mercedes-Benz Cloud, from which it will be relayed to other Car-to-X-equipped automobiles. Approximately 10 seconds before the drivers of those cars reach the pothole or speed bump, they will be warned by an icon on the vehicle’s display, and by an audible announcement of: ‘Look out, pothole!’.
The system can also warn drivers of other hazards, such as strong crosswinds, speedbumps, or weather conditions.
For now, this is a MercedesBenz only thing but, over time, it may well be that other car manufacturers will develop something similar and, if they share data, it should give motorists a far fuller picture of the road ahead.