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Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

Posted January 21, 2016 9:33 AM by Jordan Perch
Pathfinder Tags: driverless cars google

Google has been working on the development of autonomous driving technology for a couple of years now, with an increased focus on testing its self-driving car prototypes lately. Vehicles fitted with Google's autonomous driving equipment have been scanning city streets in California for a while now, as part of the company's efforts to create a detailed map of roads, which will include traffic signals, lane markings, and curb heights, among other things, and get an insight into how driverless cars interact with other vehicles, pedestrians and other road users. The digital maps created by Google will also help autonomous cars navigate city streets in a safe manner in the future.


Now, in addition to creating maps of city streets, Google's cars will start making notes of potholes on the roads they are being tested on, in a bid to help car owners avoid pothole damage and help local authorities detect and fix them as quickly as possible. The tech giant has filed a patent for a system that keeps track of potholes and reports them to city and state authorities that are in charge of road and bridge maintenance.


The system employs two shock sensors that are activated whenever a car hits a pothole. They assess the severity of the pothole, and a special software that is connected to the car's GPS system records its exact location, which it then uploads to the cloud. Google then creates a database of all potholes recorded by the system, which it will use to assess the quality of a given street, so that it can help drivers avoid the streets with the most potholes and recommend an alternate route. On top of helping car owners avoid pothole damage, the system is supposed to help speed up the process of fixing potholes, as well, as it will create catalogs of all potholes recorded by autonomous cars, that authorities will have access to, so they will be aware of the condition each road is in, and will be able to determine which road need to be repaired more urgently.


Potholes are a pretty common sight on U.S. roads. They have significant financial and safety implications, since they are one of the most common causes of car accidents, and the damages they cause to vehicles are substantial. According to a recent study by the AAA, pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $6.4 billion per year, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that it would cost $2.7 trillion to repair the country's decaying road and bridge infrastructure. As far as safety is concerned, potholes are known to cause a lot of motor vehicle accidents that often result in serious injury or fatalities, causing drivers running over them to lose control of their vehicles and colliding with other cars.


Even though there are no guarantees at the moment that this system will ever be implemented in production cars, it's safe to say that if it does go into production, it will bring major safety and economic benefits, considering how dangerous and expensive pothole damage can be.

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#1

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/21/2016 1:33 PM

I don't really want an autonomous car. But an autonomous pothole fixer, now that sounds like a winner!

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#2

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/21/2016 1:37 PM

To my knowledge finding potholes and reporting them to the road repair departments is not the problem. That gets done constantly by most everyone who has to deal with the roads.

The problem is getting them to get off their butts so they fix things where it's needed most and doing it right the first time like they are suposed to so they don't get worse is.

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#3

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/21/2016 2:17 PM

Including that nasty raised edge of an expansion joint on the ramp from westbound US-50 to the southbound (inner loop) Capital Beltway (I-95/495)? That thing slams my bumpstops every time.

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#4

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/21/2016 9:46 PM

"Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes"

Silly Google. Like where are they going to go?

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#5

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/22/2016 9:23 AM

Pothole map?

Just but a big black overlay over the City of Chicago that says [YES].

Driving on the side streets is more wear and tear on the car than driving off-road; when off-roading you can veer left or right to avoid a hole or ditch or fallen tree, but Cicago side streets are so narrow you have to maintain a dead-center, dead-straight course or you risk 'trading paint' with a parked car on either side of the street.

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#6

Re: Google Files Patent for a System That Keeps Track of Potholes

01/22/2016 10:12 AM

Hey didn't you see the sign?

You just need bigger tires....

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