Ford is taking a few more bumps out of the road of life.
It is expanding the availability of its pothole-detection technology, previously available in its Lincoln luxury cars and big Ford Expedition SUV, to include a mainstream midsize sedan model — the new 2017 Fusion V-6 Sport.
The car's computer detects when the car is running over a pothole, then instantly adjusts the shock absorbers to keep the tire from dropping into the depression. It works so well that Ford can demonstrate how the car can roll over a pothole without crushing ping-pong balls that had been dropped into it. The pothole protection feature will come standard on the car, says Ford spokesman Aaron Miller.
“The new Fusion V-6 Sport substantially reduces the harsh impact potholes often deliver,” says Jason Michener, a Ford engineer with expertise in the technology, in a statement. “Our new pothole-mitigation technology works by actually detecting potholes and catching the car’s wheel before it has a chance to drop all the way into the pothole.”
Ford cites AAA as saying pothole damage costs $3 billion a year, up to $300 a car.
The system works through the use of 12 high-resolution sensors. The computer can adjust suspension dampers every two milliseconds. It starts operating as soon as the car encounters the lip of a pothole — faster than the blink of an eye — making the shock absorber stiffen so that the front wheel won't fall into the hole.