Over the last few months, some specially equipped cars travelling in London and Kent have been part of a test bed for the UK’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Programme, itself part of a much wider European InterCor project that includes the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Highways England have been working in partnership with Department for Transport, Kent County Council and Transport for London on this EU co-funded InterCor programme, with the ambition of developing interoperable technology, systems and processes that will be part of the future of road travel.
Test vehicles on a 20 mile stretch of one of the UK’s busiest routes (the A2 and A102 in London and the M2 and A229 in Kent) are using innovative technology that allows vehicles and roads to ‘talk’ to each other. In a step forward from the SatNavs we are already accustomed to, onboard technology links cars and roadside equipment wirelessly and sends and receives data that is used to affect speeds, routes and route management.
Information is relayed directly into the cars about road works, road conditions, road signs, speed limits and even the timing traffic lights take to turn green. This can then be used in the vehicle to vary speed and create a smooth, reliable, safe journey without hold ups. At the same time, data from the cars can help road authorities manage the road network and maintenance regimes to avoid delays and prevent accidents. We have helped set up and run the trial, taking it from concept to road, and in the process developing C-ITS (Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems) standards for the whole industry.