Potholes are more than just a pain in the neck — they are a real safety hazard for drivers. Out of approximately 33,000 traffic fatalities each year, one-third involve poor road conditions, according to Pothole.info.
Now Mercedes-Benz is doing something to help alleviate both the dangers and the cost of damage caused by potholes.
With the launch of a new feature on its Car-to-X Communication service, new C-Class and S-Class models as well as the EQS can now receive visual and audible alerts so drivers are forewarned that they are nearing a pothole or a speed bump. In fact, the technology is available on some 3 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars produced in 2016 or later.
Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion per year, according to a study from the AAA.
Some of the more common damage is a flat tire, bent or damaged rims, suspension damage, steering damage and even damage to the body of the car. Potholes can even knock your car out of alignment.
But reducing the cost of repairs is only one benefit. Mercedes’ latest Car-to-X feature is designed to improve driver safety, as motorists will be able to avoid the pothole—sparing the vehicle damage and themselves possible injury.
Here’s how the technology works.
If the chassis control unit registers a pothole or speed bump, and the Car-to-X Communication service is activated, the information is sent to the Mercedes-Benz Cloud in real time via the mobile phone network, together with positional data. Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in the vicinity are informed, and the events are displayed with icons on the navigation map. About ten seconds before the relevant lane section is reached, an audible warning is given and the icon is visually highlighted.
Mercedes-Benz passenger cars produced from 2016 onward can receive the warning information, provided they have a Mercedes me account as well as activation and online availability of the Car-to-X Communication service. In these vehicles, warnings are given with the familiar voice output "Traffic event ahead.”
In the new C-Class, S-Class and EQS, the audible warning is "Look out, pothole!" or "Attention, speed bump.” The new alerts are now available in selected markets worldwide, and in all 36 languages recognized by the infotainment system.