Potholes can turn roads and highways into real-life video games at times, with drivers frantically swerving to avoid the underground cavities, causing a flat tire or some other sort of damage to their vehicles.
While potholes are something that all drivers will have to deal with at some point, Ford is trying to make them less painful.
The automaker announced today that its engineers have developed an advanced computer-controlled shock absorber system for the 2017 Fusion V6 Sport, thus significantly reducing the force and overall effects of potholes.
"The new Fusion V6 Sport substantially reduces the harsh impact potholes often deliver," Jason Michener, Ford's engineering expert, said in the company's press release 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."
The system boasts onboard computers that analyze several signals gathered from 12 high-resolution sensors, adjusting the vehicle's dampers every two milliseconds to generate the best response for every situation. When the system detects the edge of a pothole, the Fusion's computer ramps up the dampers to their stiffest settings, so the vehicles' wheels don't plunge deep into potholes. Front wheels even give pre-warning signals to the rear wheels as they approach potholes. This all makes for a less-jarring experience rolling over one.
"We tested and tuned this system by driving over countless potholes — subjecting Fusion V6 Sport to the brutal, square-edged potholes of our Lommel Proving Ground to finesse the software," Michener said. "It was long hours of not very pleasant work, but the results are well worth it."
One of the places that Ford conducts its torture tests is in Belgium, where it replicates the effects of the "world's worst potholes and other extreme surfaces," according to the automaker. That Lommel Proving Ground has test tracks sprawled out over 50 miles, equipped with upwards of 100 extreme surfaces replicated from 25 countries and includes 1.2 miles of potholes. Seemingly, if a car aces its test there, it should be equipped to drive anywhere.
This testing is more than worth the time and money behind it, considering Ford pointing out an AAA statistic that pothole damage totals nearly $3 billion per year for U.S. drivers.
With this advanced computer-controlled system in place, the Fusion V6 also has one more thing to flex among its competitors in Honda's Accord and Toyota's Camry.