Pothole detection is part of the optional Continuously Controlled Damping technology

Pothole detection is part of the optional Continuously Controlled Damping technology

Ford is limiting the impact of damaged roads for drivers of the redesigned European Focus going on sale across Europe by introducing innovative pothole detection technology as an option.

The system senses when a wheel is falling into a pothole and adjusts the suspension to limit how far the wheel drops.

Because the tyre and wheel do not fall as far, they do not strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly on exit. The rear suspension can respond even faster than the front, with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel before it reaches the pothole. This all happens in a split second.

"Our engineers are always searching for the roughest roads to really test our suspension to the limit, but more and more we're noticing that the rough roads are finding us," said Focus vehicle dynamics supervisor Guy Mathot.

"Potholes are a problem that isn't going away anytime soon but, with our advanced suspension technology, we've been able to reduce their impact."

The pothole detection system is a feature of the optional Continuously Controlled Damping technology for the new model, being revealed to European media this week, and which goes on sale in the UK later this summer.

Every two milliseconds, suspension, body, steering and braking inputs are monitored and suspension responses adjusted for the smoothest ride quality.

Ford develops its suspension systems using a specially created road at the company's test facility in Belgium, which consists of precise replicas of some of the worst potholes and road hazards from around the world. Engineers further refine the systems with hundreds of hours of testing on a diverse range of European public roads, monitoring loads and strains with equipment similar to that used by seismologists to study earthquakes.

Ford of Britain said drivers in the UK are facing a "pothole crisis" made worse this year by the 'Beast from the East' arctic air-mass last winter which delivered icy conditions that further contributed to shattered road surfaces.

A pothole was repaired every 21 seconds in England and Wales during the past year. Potholed roads not only make journeys uncomfortable: harsh impacts with severe potholes can also cause damage to a vehicle's wheels, tyres and suspension systems, resulting in hefty repair bills.

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