A new UK government project worth £150 million will target the development of “wifi roads.”
Details concerning the ambitious project were published by Highways England and the plan is to have a connected corridor (aka WiFi road) and driverless cars trialed in the UK by the end of next year. Part of the trial will involve using specially adapted vehicles on the A2/M2 between London and Kent. In addition, Highways England will trial radar technology on motorways as well as acoustic technology at the Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey to try and improve breakdown detection. The latter refers to a technology that could help to immediately notify the control center whenever a car becomes stationary.
The major investment worth £150 million also refers to the development of adaptive traffic lights at junctions to boost traffic flow, both during the day and at night. Researchers will also focus on how sensors could be used to gather more information about the conditions of the roads, tunnels, and bridges. This way, more targeted maintenance programs could be developed to prolong the lifetime of a road surface and doing so will also bring some savings.
Highways England will also analyze the prospects of creating a Test and Innovation Center to serve as support for the research considered as being an important step for the development of connected, driverless cars. Speaking about the project, Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan said the ultimate objective is to “make journeys on our roads safer, more reliable and better informed.”