Highways England has showcased new technology that connects vehicles and road infrastructure digitally.
A high-tech ‘corridor’ is being created on the A2/M2 in Kent to let specially-equipped vehicles interact with roadside infrastructure.
Highways England, the Department for Transport, Kent County Council and Transport for London have staged a ‘Testfest’, showcasing the new system to an international audience.
“Connecting vehicles to each other and the road around can improve journeys, make them safer and give drivers reliable, real-time personalised information; it could also help us manage traffic and respond to incidents, said Jo White, head of Intelligent Transport Systems Group at Highways England.
“We're supporting the Government's aim to be world leading in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). The TESTFEST is a vital part of that, because it means the initiatives we take forward and the vehicles being developed all align so drivers continue to have safe journeys in the future.”
The project, on sections of the A2 and M2, is testing how information about road conditions, roadworks and time left for traffic lights to change to green can be transmitted to test vehicles via a wireless network.
Providing drivers and fleet managers with the information and tools to make real-time decisions has the potential to quickly improve traffic flow along the corridor. It also has the potential to improve safety by providing more information about traffic conditions ahead, according to Highways England.
Displaying the information on screens inside vehicles reduces the likelihood of drivers missing information displayed on roadside signs, ending the problem of obscured signs caused by vegetation or when passing other vehicles.
For example, a sign may appear for a lane closure in place because of an accident or debris ahead. Keeping the lane clear gives the emergency services the access they need to help. Providing this information in a vehicle will help reduce drivers accidently driving in a closed lane, improving safety for everyone.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Between 2015 and 2020, the Government is planning to invest over £20 billion on improving and extending the UK’s road network, helping businesses, individuals and families alike.
“New technologies are increasingly playing a central role in this process of transformation, and connected and autonomous vehicles could be worth tens of billions of pounds to the UK economy by 2035. This exciting project showcases some of the emerging technologies involved.”
The A2/M2 Connected Corridor is part of InterCor, an EU project that aims to test services that work across borders, connecting the UK to the Netherlands, France and Belgium. The project started in 2016 and is due to be completed in 2019.