Potholes and cars don’t go very well – most times, you’d be lucky if encounters with irregular road surfaces don’t damage your wheel or other vehicular bits, but now, Ford says it has developed a computer-controlled shock absorber system that will help minimise pothole damage as well as improve ride over bad roads.
The continuously controlled damping system, which makes its working debut in the V6 Sport variant of the 2017 Fusion (known as the Mondeo in other markets), is said to be able to significantly reduce the harsh impact potholes often deliver. It does this by employing pothole mitigation technology that detects potholes and ‘catches’ the car’s wheel before it has a chance to drop all the way in.
Onboard computers analyse multiple signals collected from 12 high-resolution sensors, and help adjust the dampers every two milliseconds for the best vehicle response in every situation. When the system detects the leading edge of a pothole, the vehicle’s computer adjusts the dampers faster than the blink of an eye to their stiffest settings, so the wheel doesn’t fall as far into the pothole, Ford claims.
Because the tyre and wheel don’t drop as far in, they don’t strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly. Apparently, the rear suspension can respond even faster, because the action happening in front signals a pre-warning to the rear wheel well before it reaches the pothole.
The system was trialled and tuned by driving over countless, often brutal, square-edged potholes in its evaluation track at the Romeo Proving Grounds in Michigan to refine the software. The automaker’s European proving ground in Lommel, Belgium also chipped in with its more than 100 extreme surfaces replicated from 25 countries, including two kilometrs of potholes.
Sounds like just the thing for Malaysian roads, but one wonders how the system would cope with some of the massive chasms that litter our roads here. Probably wouldn’t save you and your car all the time.