Mercedes-Benz has enhanced the capability of its vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system with detection of potholes and sharp bumps—features that could potentially cause damage to vehicles or even accidents.

The newest generations of the C-Class and S-Class, as well as the new EQS electric hatch, feature a suspension control unit that can register a pothole or bump and then send this information to Mercedes' cloud via the mobile phone network, so that it can be forwarded to other vehicles connected to the cloud. The control unit only sends information once a certain threshold is met.

The information will show up as an icon on the navigation map of other Mercedes vehicles in the area. The icon will be highlighted and an audible warning also given in vehicles when they are roughly ten seconds out from the pothole or bump. The audible warning will typically be the phrase “Traffic event ahead” but in Mercedes' latest models the specific feature is mentioned, in this case via the phrases “Look out, pothole” and “Attention, speed bump.” The warnings are available in 36 languages.

Mercedes-Benz Car-to-X Communication warning system

Mercedes-Benz Car-to-X Communication warning system

Mercedes said its cars built from 2016 onward can receive the warning information. Owners will need an active Mercedes Me account as well as the Car-to-X Communication feature.

Mercedes' vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system also has the ability to send information about slippery roads, cross winds, road works, accidents, breakdowns, reduced visibility, heavy rain, and hazard lights.

While the system is currently limited to Mercedes vehicles, there are moves to make similar technology a requirement for all new cars and light trucks. Just like airbag and stability control requirements already in place, new vehicles could be mandated to feature both vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, specifically dedicated short-range communication systems so that they can be in constant communication with those nearby, sharing data on vehicle position and speed, proximity and whether any other obstacles in the immediate area pose a threat. The Department of Transportation estimates that 615,000 crashes could be prevented annually with such technology.