Highways England to utilise connected and autonomous plant technology


Highways England has plans to deploy a highly automated construction plant on maintenance projects and has called on TRL to bring together stakeholders from industry and academia to support the delivery of a roadmap through a development programme.

Highways England intends to implement intelligent and automated practices by 2050 and the innovation project will identify the key technological and strategic milestones needed to achieve this.

The project will explore the worker safety and welfare benefits, as well as benefits related to construction quality, productivity and costs that arise through automating activities that currently require human intervention. TRL will then test these benefits in reality in a field demonstration using connected and autonomous plant technology.

“Highways England’s first priority is safety – for those using our roads, and for those who work there. We see the potential for great benefits of greater automation of vehicles to deliver improved safety and increased mobility,” said Highways England’s innovation supply chain manager for safety, engineering and standards, Muneer Akhtar.

“Connected and autonomous construction plant has huge potential to reduce the risk for construction workers and improve productivity. As a leading construction client, Highways England is committed to working across industry to advance this emerging technology as part of our £150m innovation designated fund.”

TRL’s chief technologist Alex Wright added: “Given the wide range of potential applications, there was a risk that the absence of a strategy would lead to poor coordination and introduction of CAP. So, by initiating this project, we can address the issues and determine how this powerful new technology can best be applied to bring about positive, tangible change and revolutionise the industry as we know it.”