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Highways England launches future roads fund for innovative projects

Futureu road

Highways England has launched a fund to support innovative road projects.

It is making £20M of funding available for projects “to change the way UK roads are designed, managed and used”.

The competition is being run via the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and is being launched in partnership with Innovate UK.

“Technological advances, including low carbon, connected and autonomous vehicles, will transform how people travel – and significantly change to how the UK’s transport network operates,” a spokesperson said.

“While our roads have been evolving, the biggest opportunities will come from planning ahead longer term to anticipate and respond to the requirements of future vehicles.”

There are two parallel competitions for funding. The first focuses on feasibility studies for ideas that are unproven and at a low technology readiness level. The second is for feasibility projects that are at a mid- to high technology readiness level.

In both competitions, projects should tackle the transport challenges and core themes set out in Highways England’s Connecting the country: planning for the longer term document.

Core themes:

  • Greater automation of the design process
  • Greater automation of construction work, including the inspection and management of assets
  • Adopting more modular construction techniques
  • Expanding and improving data collection
  • Creating a unified asset management system
  • Increasing the use of advanced materials that are self-maintaining and extend the asset lifecycle
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles, such as maximising their safety and capability and increasing uptake
  • Customer mobility, such as improving experiences for road users and connections with other modes of transport
  • Energy and the environment, which covers electric and other clean energy sources as well as the impacts that road networks have on neighbouring environments
  • Operations, from customer service and traffic management, to roadworks and incident and severe weather response
  • Air quality, particularly targeting oxides of nitrogen and other air pollutants

The competition opens on 11 February 2019, and the deadline for registrations is 1 May 2019. 

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