The system combines a GPS-equipped infotainment system and a vertical movement sensor somewhere on the vehicle. When a driver hits a pothole, the navigation system notes the location and sends the info into the cloud. Based on the amount of vibration on a given street, Google's servers can create a continuously upgrading database of the average road quality and can divert drivers around particularly bad sections when deciding on a route.
While patenting an idea doesn't necessarily mean that it hits the road, this system seems massively beneficial to all drivers. Plus, the concept doesn't seem too hard to implement, either. Google's use for this tech appears obvious, too. Given the company's fleet of autonomous vehicles, being able to route passengers around rough streets could be an especially welcome feature. The tech could go part of the way towards keeping folks in driverless cars from getting motion sickness.