Trials of wirelessly connected vehicles and driverless cars to hit UK roads
Highways England has set out plans to create a connected corridor or “wi-fi road” that will see cars and infrastructure wirelessly connected and drivers receiving advanced news of road closures or congestion warnings.
The strategy builds on the announcement by Chancellor, George Osborne, in the March Budget that driverless cars will be tested on motorways by the end of 2017.
In the meantime, Highways England will:
- trial radar technology on motorways and acoustic technology at the Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey to improve breakdown detection. The technology would continually monitor traffic and notify control centres within seconds of a stationary vehicle
- join a trial that would see information sent wirelessly to specially adapted vehicles on the A2/M2 between London and Kent. The on-road technology would wirelessly transmit the latest journey information directly to vehicles which, depending on the circumstances, could suggest changing lanes or taking an alternative route
- ensure that trials are being undertaken for autonomous vehicles on motorways by the end of next year, to start to collect real world data on performance and potential impacts on capacity and operations
- look at improving the signalling of junctions on motorways to increase traffic flows. This would involve adapting timing of the signals at junctions depending on the time of day and use
- investigate the use of sensors that could provide better information about the condition of roads, bridges and tunnels on the network. In the future this could allow for more targeted maintenance programmes and save money over the lifetime of the road surface or structure
- exploring the creation of a Test and Innovation Centre to pioneer new research
- develop the use of ‘expressways’ on A-roads to encourage more free-flowing traffic by having modernised junctions, provide emergency refuge and maintenance areas and use advanced technology to provide journey information