Ford adds pothole-fighting technology to Fusion Sport

Ford adds pothole-fighting technology to Fusion Sport

Mid-sized sedan uses sensors to detect potholes, adjust suspension to avoid wheel damage.

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February 19, 2016

Dearborn, Michigan – While it’s impossible to miss all potholes, Ford engineers have developed an advanced computer-controlled shock absorber system for the Fusion V6 Sport, a 2017 model year vehicle, which significantly reduces that unpleasant feeling one gets when driving down a pothole-riddled road.

According to AAA, pothole damage cost U.S. drivers approximately $3 billion a year and drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage. The Fusion V6 Sport is the first Ford car equipped with a computer-controlled shock absorber system – or continuously controlled damping – as a standard feature.

“The new Fusion V6 Sport substantially reduces the harsh impact potholes often deliver,” says Jason Michener, Ford continuously controlled damping engineering expert. “Our new pothole mitigation technology works by actually detecting potholes and ‘catching’ the car’s wheel before it has a chance to drop all the way into the pothole.”

Onboard computers analyze multiple signals collected from 12 high-resolution sensors – adjusting the dampers every two milliseconds for the best vehicle response in every situation. When the edge of a pothole is detected, the car’s computer adjusts the dampers to their stiffest settings so the wheel doesn’t fall as far into the pothole. Because the tire and wheel don’t drop as far, they don’t strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly.

The rear suspension can respond even faster, with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel well before it reaches the pothole.

“We tested and tuned this system by driving over countless potholes – subjecting Fusion V6 Sport to the brutal, square-edged potholes of our Romeo (Michigan) Proving Grounds to finesse the software,” says Michener. “It was long hours of not very pleasant work, but the results are well worth it.”

Ford also has a test center in Belgium that replicates the effects of the world’s worst potholes and other extreme surfaces. Lommel Proving Ground incorporates test tracks covering 50 miles, and more than 100 extreme surfaces replicated from 25 countries, including 1.2 miles of potholes.

Source: Ford Motor Co.