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Question
I am developing an android application which detects potholes in the road. For this I use the built in accelerometer in the phone. I can measure the acceleration in 3 direction (x,y & z) and also the 3 rotation angles(azimuth,pitch and role).But I don't know how to detect a pothole using these values. I referred so many papers regarding this, but I don't understand it.

Answer
You don't really detect a pothole with these values.  You detect the fact that you've run over a pothole with them.  Are you trying to create a map of them by running over them?  You certainly can't "detect" them if what you mean is to avoid them.  If a car is accelerating smoothly or traveling at a constant velocity, you'll have small acceleration values.  Add all the accelerations together quadratically (ax^2+ay^2+az^2), set some arbitrary threshold (maybe you can program a slider for the level), and above that threshold you've detected a pothole.  It should be that simple.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

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I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

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I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

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Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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