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Amey has been awarded extra funding to develop technology that could change the way traffic management on roads is carried out, boosting safety in the process.
In an announcement on Tuesday the firm, which is owned by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, said it had received £759,000 ($998,259) from Highways England.
According to Amey, the money will be used to design an impact protection vehicle, or IPV, to keep roadworkers safe when laying out traffic management measures on “live carriageways.” The first phase of the project received funding back in 2018.
The vehicle is set to incorporate technology that will allow it to, among other things, automatically deploy advanced warning signs and impact protection systems. At the moment, workers need to manually lay out traffic management measures, a task that is not without risk.
“While we are doing all we can to change driver behavior and prevent traffic management incursions, we cannot eliminate all risk,” Catherine Brookes, Highways England regional director, said in a statement.
“But measures such as this new type of IPV could protect the lives of our workers and road users and we look forward to seeing its further development,” Brookes added.
The IPV’s development has been a communal effort: Amey has collaborated with organizations including Highways England, the Manufacturing and Technology Centre and Coventry University.
The next few years could see a big shift in the way roads operate, with advances in technology set to usher in a new era of transportation focused on automation.
Over in the U.S., for example, the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, recently unveiled plans to create a 40 mile “connected and autonomous vehicle” corridor in the state.
And just last week, the U.K. government started a consultation on the use of Automated Lane Keeping System technology on Britain’s freeways.
In an announcement unveiling its plans, the government described ALKS as “an automated system that can take over control of the vehicle at low speeds, keeping it in lane on motorways.”
It explained that the tech had been developed to enable drivers to “delegate the task of driving to the vehicle,” noting that a human would need to be ready to retake control of the vehicle when prompted.