Highways England outlines ‘intelligent network’ of the future

11.18 | 13 December 2017 | | 6 comments

Cars of the future could be programmed to spot potholes and automatically transmit the information to Highways England, according to the government agency.

In a new report published today (13 Dec), Highways England says an ‘intelligent network coupled with connected vehicles’ would ‘improve how efficiently roads are maintained’ and at the same time improve safety.

The Strategic Road Network Initial Report outlines eight aspirations for the period 2020-25, including a focus on maintenance and renewals, building the smart motorway spine of the network and the roll out of ‘expressways’ which, according to Highways England, will ‘provide many of the benefits of a motorway performance road without the conventional costs’.

With regard to maintenance, Highways England is currently funding a pilot project by the Nottingham Transport Engineering Centre to create ‘self-healing roads’.

Laboratory tests and pilot trials show that mixing capsules of oil into the asphalt used for resurfacing has the potential to increase the lifespan of roads by at least a third.

When cracks start to appear in the road, the capsules split open and release the oil, which in turn softens the asphalt and helps it bind together again.

The system, which Highways England says has the potential to reduce the cost of repairs by £260m a year, will now be tested on sections of road as maintenance work is carried out.

In another development, Highways England says drones could also be used to report back on incidents on its network, in a bid to improve response times.

Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, said: “Because people’s journeys are important to us we are setting out our high level aspirations which will help ensure the network continues to drive economic growth, jobs and prosperity, and keeps traffic moving today, and into the future.”

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, added: “This Government is making people’s journeys better, faster and safer to give people better access to jobs, schools and their community.

“We are planning to spend more than ever before to upgrade England’s motorways and major A roads from 2020 through to 2025.”

The DfT has also launched a consultation into the Highways England report, which will run until 7 February 2018.

The results of the consultation will be used to help develop the next Road Investment Strategy, which the Government is expected to publish in 2019.



Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Potholes can indeed be considered by some as a natural ‘vertical deflection’ speed reducing feature. However one pedestrian’s view of their benign benefit may be another pedestrian’s trip hazard.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    In general, smooth road surfaces help to reinforce the message given to drivers by our road system. Potholes, on the other hand, can help to ameliorate that message somewhat and thus actually make roads safer due to necessarily slower traffic speeds they induce.

    In fact, I could go as far as to say that, where they provide a chance for disenfranchised pedestrians to once more exercise their right to cross roads when they choose, they should be left in place.

    Charles, England
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    Reporting road surface damage is rather pointless if nobody fixes the holes. In Portsmouth, we are very lucky to have a council that looks after our roads very well indeed. Potholes are exceedingly rare and swiftly fixed. By and large, surfaces are silky smooth and the paintwork throughout the city cannot be faulted. Travel outside the city and the roads swiftly deteriorate.

    As usual, everyone is focused on inputs and groovy new tech. Because we have cars that can spot holes and drones all over the place does not mean the holes get fixed. A crew in hi viz does that and nobody wants to pay for them.

    Kevan, Southsea
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Could they also be programmed to detect and report when the traffic signs are falling over, covered in dirt, pointing the wrong way, worn out, or hidden in the bushes. It is time that regular routine inspection and maintenance of the road infrastructure became obligatory rather than ‘a nice to have’ option as the authorities currently seem to view it. Hertfordshire council put the fact that they were actually cleaning the signs on the cover of their annual magazine as if everyone was expected to applaud the fact that they were actually doing their job! There are so many ways that road safety could benefit by adopting the methodical methods of safety delivery that are now standard practice in the modern workplace.

    Derek, Hertfordshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    As I understand it bitumen already contains a mixture which includes oils as a primary component and so is already used and makes a newly resurfaced tarmac initially oily and therefore could be dangerous for bikers and others for the first maybe week of use. A newly formed surface when wet has oils seen to be laying on the surface.

    If the new system that uses what can only be described as cooking oils works well and is quicker and easier to use and not necessarily merely because its cheaper then I would welcome this new initiative but still have reservations as to its impact upon two wheeled vehicles.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There may still be a big step to actually getting the pothole fixed after automatically transmitting information on the presence of said pothole.

    Also, I hope that the oil from oil capsules that split open when cracks appear stays below the surface. Any bikers willing to line up to test that on a nice 60mph bend Highways England?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.