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Hi-tech scheme will let road 'talk to vehicles' on A2 between Chatham and Dartford

By Chris Hunter

Drivers shouting at the road is no new thing, but the conversation could become more constructive after the introduction of an innovative new scheme.

Pioneering work led by Highways England is being carried out to create a hi-tech 'corridor' on the A2/M2 between Chatham and Dartford, which will let specially-equipped vehicles interact with roadside infrastructure.

The project is testing how information about road conditions, roadworks and time left for traffic lights to change to green can be transmitted to test vehicles via a wireless network.

In vehicle information could tell drivers about road conditions under a new scheme (4742131)
In vehicle information could tell drivers about road conditions under a new scheme (4742131)

Those behind the project say it will give drivers and fleet managers information and tools to make real-time decisions, which could potentially improve traffic flow along the corridor and improve safety.

They say displaying the information on screens inside vehicles reduces the likelihood of drivers missing information on roadside signs.

This week Highways England, the Department for Transport, Kent County Council and Transport for London have staged a ‘TESTFEST’ showcasing the work to an international audience progress to date.

The week-long event has attracted more than 60 people from the automobile world to allow them to understand the technology and see how it could be used in the construction of future vehicle designs.

Highways England Head of Intelligent Transport Systems Group Jo White said: “Connecting vehicles to each other and the road around can improve journeys, make them safer and give drivers reliable, real-time personalised information; it could also help us manage traffic and respond to incidents. We're supporting the Government's aim to be world leading in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). The TESTFEST is a vital part of that, because it means the initiatives we take forward and the vehicles being developed all align so drivers continue to have safe journeys in the future.”

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Between 2015 and 2020, the Government is planning to invest over £20 billion on improving and extending the UK’s road network, helping businesses, individuals and families alike.

“New technologies are increasingly playing a central role in this process of transformation, and connected and autonomous vehicles could be worth tens of billions of pounds to the UK economy by 2035. This exciting project showcases some of the emerging technologies involved.”

Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Mike Whiting said: “We welcome this investment and look forward to finding out the results from this pilot scheme. The A2 and M2 are some of the busiest roads managed by Highways England in Kent, so we are keen to find out whether this new technology can reduce delays.”

The A2/M2 Connected Corridor is part of InterCor, an EU project that aims to test services that work across borders, connecting the UK to the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

The project started in 2016 and is due to be completed in 2019.

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