Potholes aren't just uncomfortable to drive over: The damage caused by them costs America's drivers $3 billion annually, reports the American Automobile Association in a study it released Wednesday. Good thing, then, that Ford's 2017 Fusion V6 Sport sedan should be able to handle them. The American car company has announced that the tech will be implemented for the first time in midsize non-luxury cars—it's already available in high-end Lincolns—a move the Detroit News sees as a bid to distinguish the vehicle from the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. "It reduces the [impact] greatly," says Jason Michener, who engineered the technology. Still, he clarifies, the protection isn't total: "There's always one pothole that no amount of technology will protect you from."
So how does it work? The car doesn't avoid the pothole by driving around it, but rather houses a smart shock-absorbing system that stiffens when sensors detect that a wheel is entering a pothole, reports CNNMoney. This detection, in turn, keeps the wheel in an "elevated" position so that it does not drop down into the pothole. That action then triggers the rear wheel's shock absorber to follow suit. (This video from Ford uses Ping-Pong balls to illustrate.) Ford has a 1.2-mile road course in Belgium full of replicas of some of the worst potholes—and other hazards such as cobblestones and speed bumps—drivers face. Testers get to race over them as fast as 45mph to further test and improve the technology. (This pothole may have led to a father and son's death.)