William Eichler 22 January 2019

Council investigates using ‘smart’ cars to detect potholes

Oxfordshire County Council could be rolling out ‘smart’ cars to help detect potholes quickly.

The county council’s Smart City initiative has been researching the information-gathering capabilities of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs).

The county council’s head of innovation, Llewellyn Morgan, said this technology could be used to help highway maintenance teams fix potholes.

‘Experimental CAV cars are fitted with special surveying equipment that measures distance to particular targets using pulsed laser light and a sensor,’ he will tell the Smart Places of the Future conference in London today.

'Working with Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software company, the team is testing this equipment, mapping Oxford’s road surfaces.

‘Could the data be used quickly and accurately to identify where tarmac is breaking up? If so, it could help our highway maintenance teams to fix potholes and plan resurfacing work before further deterioration.

‘A “prevention before cure” approach has potential to save council tax payers thousands of pounds a year.’

Oxfordshire is also looking into how to use the same technology to make life safer for cyclists with the Smart Cycling Detection project.

This gathers real-time information on the locations of cyclists within traffic flows, which is then used to warn drivers of their presence.

Oxfordshire CC’s cabinet member for the environment, Yvonne Constance, said: ‘These exciting projects are turning Oxford into a “living laboratory” where we test technology, discover and develop innovative congestion solutions, and promote healthy transport options.

‘By working closely with industry and academics, we can help shape practical uses for ingenious high-tech innovations. It’s a win-win-win; for Oxfordshire’s residents, for local businesses and university researchers.’

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