Highways England launch £20m innovative competition to revolutionise roads

A pot of £20m has been set aside for investment in projects which will change the way the country’s motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used.

The roads body is encouraging bids for the scheme that could create “digital roads” and increase the uptake of connected and autonomous vehicles while improving air quality.

Examples of projects could include roads which repair themselves, robotic construction methods, and improved connections between different modes of transport.

The competitions come as the company continues to plan for the future, the changing roads landscape and the increasing automation in vehicles and systems.

Highways England is delivering the government’s current £15bn road investment programme and paving the way for the second programme which will start in April 2020.

In June 2018 the company launched an ‘innovation portal’ – an online platform to help identify projects which could make roads safer for motorists and road workers, improve how information reaches those travelling around or help deliver an ambitious roads programme.

In October it showcased to an international audience the pioneering work it was leading to transform journeys with innovative technology allowing vehicles and the roads to “talk” to each other.

Highways England is looking to invest in creative solutions covering six themes:

  • Design, construction and maintenance
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles
  • Customer mobility
  • Energy and the environment
  • Operations
  • Air quality

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s executive director for Safety, Engineering and Standards, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs, collaborative partnerships, and organisations of any size to help shape the roads of the future. We want to explore new and innovative approaches and invest in the best. And we’re keen to engage with a wider network than we have traditionally worked with. Together we can make great improvements both to people’s journeys and communities and the environment around our network.

Anyone interested in entering the competition is encouraged to join a webinar, hosted by Innovate UK and Highways England on Thursday 14 February. Entries open on 11 February.

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