Think you have roads with bad potholes where you live?
Well, they’re probably nothing compared to one stretch of road in Belgium. It’s no ordinary road mind you, it’s a pothole-filled road designed to put Ford vehicles through their paces.
Ford’s developed a special ‘boulevard of broken suspensions’ to help its engineers create better chassis systems to handle the world’s worst potholes. It’s part of 50 miles of test tracks at Ford’s testing ground in Lommel, Belgium.
Potholes are without a doubt a huge, costly problem for drivers. In the U.S. alone, pothole damage has cost drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years – that’s approximately $3 billion annually – according to a new study from AAA. Ford also points out they’re not great for drivers, either, resulting in bad backs, sore necks and headaches.
Basically, Ford went around the world to check out some of the worst roads and then built a test track to mimic them. Test drivers go over granite blocks, cobblestone and speed bumps, along with sizable craters in the road, at speeds up to 46 mph. Engineers use equipment and sensors similar to ones used by seismologists to record the loads and strains to suspensions and components. It’s demanding work and some stretches of road are so tough that drivers must take breaks every two hours.
The result of all these tests will be innovations in Ford vehicles. In fact, the new Fusion V6 Sport will soon become the first Ford car in the U.S. to get Continuous Control Damping with Pothole Mitigation technology. It’s already being used on several models in Europe. The technology adjusts suspension if it detects a car’s dipped into a pothole, protecting the suspension.
In the past three years alone, Ford engineers’ search for scary road hazards has taken them to Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K., as well as Asia, Australia, North America and South America.
With potholes seemingly everywhere on our routes these days, we can only give three cheers and a hurrah to Ford for working on some solutions. Roads are overall in terrible shape in many U.S. communities and efforts to repair and build new ones seem to move at a snails pace.