England tentatively pushes further towards testing driverless cars


Highways England, the arbiter for road network infrastructure in England, has unveiled a wide-ranging plan including opportunities for driverless cars and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Among the initial projects to be funded, according to the report, includes motorway to motorway traffic management schemes, as well as a ‘collaborative traffic management’ programme on the M25, as part of wider plans to make the road network and vehicles safer.

“We will pursue a strategy of open innovation, increasing our external focus to identify potential partners, opportunities and promising new areas of research and technology,” the report notes. “We will identify new internal and external paths to market where our partners can share risk and reward.”

Highways England offers five prerogatives as set out in the government’s 'road investment' strategy; making the network safer, improving user satisfaction, encouraging economic growth, delivering better environmental outcomes, and keeping the network in good condition. The move towards connected cars is represented in the latter two points; creating ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), developing and trialling new low noise road surfaces, while the IoT will be utilised through swarm intelligence, managing and operating the network through smart sensors.

“The next generation of smart motorways will achieve smoother, more controlled flow,” the report explains, before adding: “Building on the success of smart motorways, we will develop innovative concepts to apply to our ‘expressways’ such as use of advanced incident detection technology to improve journey performance on some of our busiest A roads.”

Regarding the document’s pursuance of open strategies, Highways England say they will develop open source solutions and actively share insights from innovation with others, as well as encourage third parties to contribute to schemes.

You can read the full advisory document here.

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