Potholes be gone - With C2X, Dutch gov wants Mercedes-Benz drivers to give live road hazard reports
Hans · Mar 30, 2022 02:18 PM
Forget about Waze’s pothole reports, Mercedes-Benz cars equipped with Car-to-X (C2X) communication can now share live reports of potholes to other compatible vehicles. The Dutch government however, has gone one step further and it wants to enlist drivers of such Mercedes-Benz cars to help it monitor road conditions.
In what is possibly the first of its kind of such efforts, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Min I&W) has awarded a 2-year contract to Mercedes-Benz to supply road surface and weather conditions data on 130,000 km of Dutch roads with the country’s Road Monitor programme (ROMO).
The idea is to turn every C2X-equipped Mercedes-Benz on the road to become a mobile road surface and weather monitoring bot.
To protect the privacy of users, all data submitted will be anonymised.
All Mercedes-Benz cars sold in Europe from 2016 onwards have C2X functionalities built into the car (not available on Malaysia market cars).
The X in C2X simply means any compatible vehicle / infrastructure or network.
Since 2016, Mercedes-Benz models with the adaptive / Airmatic suspension can tell if the vehicle has hit a pothole, based on compression and rebound rates on the front and rear axles.
When a threshold is exceed, the car will send a signal to the Mercedes-Benz Cloud service, which will then alert similarly equipped vehicles approaching the hazard. Now, the Dutch government wants to leverage on Mercedes-Benz’s data to improve its road maintenance.
Since they are obviously a lot more Mercedes-Benz cars on the road than road maintenance vehicles, C2X allows the Dutch government to scale up their road monitoring without adding more vehicles to their fleet.
Mercedes-Benz data can identify not only where potholes exist, but also the intensity and development over time. This information is valuable to authorities for advance planning and prioritising the deployment of maintenance resources.
C2X can also share data on slippery road surface and crosswind by pulling data from the vehicle’s electronic stability control (ESP) and anti-lock brakes (ABS). It can also tell weather conditions like heavy rain and fog by using the vehicle’s automatic wiper speed and fog lamps as cues.
By combining Mercedes-Benz’s data with that of weather stations, Dutch road authorities can identify road hazards before accidents happen.
For instance, when ESP or ABS sensors detect low road friction, the anonymised data, including GPS information, is sent to the Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Cloud via the mobile communications network. Once processed in the backend, the information can then be sent to digital maps and dashboards in road maintenance depots, enabling quick and effective deployment of the necessary resources.
In Europe, the Mercedes-Benz C2X feature is part of the Mercedes me app. The service is by subscription only, but it’s free for the first 3 years of ownership.
Since 2016, C2X modules have been installed into the navigation system of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars sold in Europe, numbering over 3 million cars.