[Video] Ford tests its cars on bumpy roads image

Part of its intensive testing program, Ford built a road full of potholes and pushed its cars to drive on some inauspicious conditions.

Hitting a pothole has always been one of the most frustrating experiences for motorists, and a dangerous and pricey one too. In the United States, damages caused by such incidents has cost drivers 15 billion dollars in vehicle repairs over the last five years, approximately 3 billion dollars annually, according to a new study from AAA. Therefore, cars need to be tougher to resist to such torment. Ford Motor seems that it has put some thought into the problem and it built an excruciating 1.2 mile road that incorporates precise replicas of some of the worst potholes and road hazards from around the world. It must have been a gargantuan task to find and categorize all the potholes. So, what is the point? The automaker says it will help its engineers to create more sturdy chassis systems and think of new ways to ensure Ford cars can better withstand the world’s increasingly choppy roads.

The road created by Ford is part of 50 miles of test tracks at company’s test facility in Lommel, Belgium. It incorporates potholes from Europe and the US, Ford claims, and simulates more than 100 hazards from 25 countries worldwide. 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 UK, as well as Asia, Australia, North America and South America. Quite a ride, if I may add. Employing similar equipment to that used by seismologists studying earthquakes, the engineers drive through the potholes at speeds of up to 46 mph, using sensors to record the loads and strains to the suspension and components. This includes surfaces as diverse as granite blocks from Belgium, cobbles from Paris and speed bumps from Brazil.