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Government seeks road design ideas to put driverless vehicles in the fast lane


Highways England and The National Infrastructure Commission are willing to invest up to £200,000 in projects that will change the design of the UK roads to maximise the benefits of autonomous vehicles.

Driverless vehicles could become a reality on UK roads in the next decade, and if that is to be the case, the roads we use also need to change.

Vehicles could end up moving in a convoy, reducing the need for traffic lights, while lane directions could also be altered during certain times of the day.

The £200,000 will be invested into projects that are able to produce practical ideas on managing and designing roads across three areas, including:

  • The design of the road and objects around it, including lighting columns, crash barriers, line markings and signs
  • Managing the flow of traffic, including the use of traffic signals
  • Maintaining road rules and regulations, including speed limits and loading restrictions.

Funding for the projects will be delivered in two phases, with the first open to any idea that can demonstrate a strong route to market.

The contracts awarded to the projects in phase 1 have the potential to be worth up to £30,000, with the best one given an additional £50,000 to develop their idea further.

The Government hopes to be able to begin testing autonomous vehicles on roads by 2019, with the hope that they can be fully introduced by 2021 as part of the Government’s bid to create an economy fit for the future.

Sir John Armitt, Deputy Chairman of the NIC, said: “We want to put people’s minds to this test. Whether from industry or ¬≠academia, we want to see them submit their ideas for developing a world-class roads network that can meet the challenge that this new technology presents.”

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