Developing digital roads and improving air quality


Competition results


The winners subject to contract – air quality


Dynamic air quality management – Amey OW limited

This project aims to improve air quality by dynamically changing the speed limit on smart motorways. Speed limits will only be introduced when poor air quality is predicted, as opposed to pre-defined time periods, allowing motorways to run at the national speed limit for longer. Harmful pollutants, such as NO2, will be monitored in local communities by installing a dense network of real-time air quality sensors.

Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment – Aimsun Limited

This is a proposal to investigate the impact of different traffic management tactics in real-time on the Oxford road network (within the ring road) and their implications on the A34 and A40). The proposal provides short-term air quality and traffic predictions, based on a network of sensors and dynamic simulation. The system will enable operators to simulate the effect of different traffic management strategies and select the best strategy to mitigate poor air quality.

Green Light Optimised Speed Advisory – Amey OW limited

This project aims to improve air quality by reducing the number of stop-starts when leaving motorways, where vehicles are using inclined off-slips at signalised junctions. Stop-starts of freight vehicles, including hill starts, significantly increase fuel consumption, brake wear and emissions. The project will employ a technique known as Green Light Optimised Speed Advisory (GLOSA), which informs drivers when traffic lights will change, recommending a speed to approach the signals without stopping.

Showcasing artificial intelligence – Clytell UK Limited

The development of a pollution visualisation tool (“Eco-Highways”). The tool functions as a travel planner that will visualise NO2 emissions on highways in real time and provide users with emission levels along a planned route.

Feasibility of tool to assess air quality impacts of elevated roads – Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd

The development of a sub-model for inclusion in the ADMS-Roads software that will enable a more accurate assessment of the effect elevated roads and bridges have on air quality.

Clean efficient off grid electric vehicle charging – Intelligent Power Generation Limited IPG

Intelligent Power Generation (IPG) and Cranfield University, with support from Milton Keynes Council, will evaluate the technical feasibility of IPG’s modular turbine EV-charging solution, delivering power at a competitive cost while improving air quality. IPG’s system reduces CO2 emissions up to 57%, eliminates harmful nitrous oxides, as well as reduces fuel costs by up to 76%. This technology would alleviate the grid stress in high usage areas and enable remote locations to facilitate EV charging.

Simplifai integrated corridor management – Simplifai systems limited

Air quality varies day-to-day and hour-to-hour due to changes in traffic and weather. Operational tools must respond to these changes by considering the benefit of intervention at points across the transport network, balancing air quality and other transport-related goals. At Simplifai Systems Limited, we have developed a goal-centred approach to the operational management of transport networks using artificial intelligence. This project extends our solution to address air quality issues related to the Highways England Network.

Biotecture active airflow living wall – Biotecture

Biotecture will harness the power of plants to improve air quality on our highways with an innovative, new, living wall air purifying system. The Biotecture Active Airflow Living Wall draws in polluted air to where the plants’ leaves and roots can remove gaseous pollutants and harmful particles, with cleaner air being the output. Biology and technology are combined in this scalable and modular system that will be targeted to create clean zones in sensitive locations.

Incentivising drivers to lessen emissions – RBD holdings limited

IDLE is a people-focused technology solution combining behavioural science and data optimisation. It delivers improvements in air quality, business profits, driver productivity, and driver well-being. Having first demonstrated the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions in a scientific trial with airline pilots, we will explore 1) which driver behaviours should be changed, and 2) how we can motivate those changes using subtle nudges from our unique behavioural insights engine.

Motorway charging using thermo-mechanical energy storage – Cheesecake energy Ltd

Cheesecake Energy is developing affordable energy storage for electric vehicle charging stations, enabling widespread use of electric transport and integration of local renewables across the strategic road network. The system stores electricity in the form of compressed air and heat at very low cost, time-shifting renewable energy to meet the demand for charging and reducing the strain on the grid. The project will assess technical and commercial feasibility prior to construction of a demonstration system.

Flywheel fast charging station – Gyrotricity LTD

Gyrotricity will collaborate with Highways England and a number of UK universities to develop next generation fast charging stations for electric vehicles on the UK Strategic Road Network. These chargers will meet the rising demand for shorter charging times from electric car owners as well as the high-power needs of new electric lorries. The charging stations will be based on an innovative flywheel – or “kinetic energy storage” – system developed at City, University of London.


The winners subject to contract – innovation


Digitally enabled and assured product based bridges – Laing O’Rourke

The project, led by Laing O’Rourke, will look to create a set of preapproved bridge components with associated design guides. The configuration of these components will be enabled by digital tools allowing rapid design and optioneering of standardised assemblies within hours rather than weeks. This will facilitate a greater content of offsite manufactured components being used in the delivery of highway bridges, leading to improved efficiency, reduced waste, improved quality assurance and reduced defects.

Connected Digital Roads – Costain Group PLC

This project aims to create the link between Digital Roads infrastructure and Connected Vehicles. Working with the automotive industry supply chain, Costain will carry out a pilot to demonstrate the effectiveness of an Open Mobility Services Platform (OMSP) that will make real time information seamlessly available to connected vehicles. This will enable vehicles to adapt to changes in operating conditions and improve safety, relieve congestion and provide an enhanced experience for the user.

Flexible, future-proof edge compute services for connected vehicles and advanced road operation – Vodafone Group Services Limited

The project applies 5G technology and low latency edge computing inside a mobile network to improve road safety and traffic efficiency in a flexible, cost-efficient way. Affordable cameras built into connected (and in future autonomous) vehicles stream data to a nearby edge computing node, where artificial intelligence identifies potential issues (e.g. dropped cargo or worker stepping into the road). This allows to alert vehicles in real-time, avoid incidents, and share analytics data with Highways England.

Video analytics service – Costain Group PLC

Costain and Vivacity will jointly implement a modular video analytics solution to optimise Highways England (HE) CCTV and enhance operations at Regional Control Centres. The team will work with HE Operators to identify key issues, with Costain developing a software platform to manage CCTV feeds and enabling Vivacity’s machine learning software to identify incidents on the road network. The software will advise and alert Operators to incidents, enabling faster, more effective responses and enhanced operations.

Sustainable asphalt – BAM

BAM will complete essential studies, including laboratory trials, to enable the use of Sustainable Asphalt (SA) on UK highways. Produced at lower temperatures and using higher amounts of recycled material than traditional ‘hot mix asphalt’, SA uses less energy and natural resources, and reduces carbon intensity and waste to construct and maintain highways. As the first step in a fully circular solution, SA can contribute to achieving Highways England’s sustainability targets and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Strategic Road Network impact – Travel AI

SRN IMPACT harnesses the ubiquity of smartphones and the power of Artificial Intelligence to bring scale, accuracy and convenience to transport surveying. Existing out-of-date methods yield fragmented, stale and expensive data. TravelAi will build a state-of-art digital travel survey tool around its automatic travel detection software for mobile phones. Developing SRN IMPACT in partner Hertfordshire County Council’s living lab will ensure Highways England receives a de-risked, proven, fully functional tool to use across its network.

Road Asset Geometry and Condition Data Capture – Bentley Systems

Bentley Systems and Vivacity Labs have partnered to develop and deploy AI capability to automate road assessment. Initially this will focus on surface visible drainage, vehicle restraint systems and poles. Video from a Highways England patrol vehicle will be analysed then delivered to the Highways England Bentley AssetWise solution for immediate use by Asset Managers. This is another step for Highways England to continue the journey from ‘find and fix’ to preventative, risk-based asset management.

Secure real time API for innovation and data monetisation – Alchera Technologies

Alchera Technologies, pioneers of AI-powered real-time mobility data, is demonstrating the feasibility of an innovative data management platform to unlock the potential of Highways England’s data. This first-of-a-kind platform will leverage Alchera’s proprietary technology for city-scale real-time analysis of sensor and vehicle data streams. It will become a source of innovation for new data-driven services across the road network, via real-time, auditable data sharing, data stream monetisation and a development sandbox with an open API.

Connected and autonomous vehicles infrastructure appraisal readiness – Galliford Try

The CAVIAR project will deliver a review and assessment of infrastructure readiness for Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) operations. The project will explore different integrated simulation platforms in evaluating Strategic Road Network (SRN) geometry and infrastructure technologies to identify scenarios and conditions where the SRN requires attention for ensuring a collision-free deployment of CAVs. Safe, trusted and explainable artificial intelligence techniques will be utilised in developing a relationship between CAV failures and existing roadway design parameters.

Motorway Mobility – Connected Places Catapult

Motorway Mobility is a vision for a new type of public transport, which could result in far-reaching benefits. Imagine a complementary system to the rail network where our existing motorways are the rails and the vehicles are self-driving carriages.
This Connected Places Catapult and Arrival project represents a crucial major step towards this vision by understanding the user benefits, the opportunities for businesses, the best places to run the first services and vehicle development timelines.

Very High-Speed Communications Infrastructure – Ingram Networks LTD

A study into the feasibility of adapting a very high speed (10Gbps+) communications technology being developed for the UK’s Rail Network for use on the UK’s Strategic Road Network (SRN). High Bandwidth, Low Latency communications are a key enabler for connecting the country through the SRN, as it is a key enabler for a whole range of other innovations, enabling the loop to be closed between digital roads and vehicles.

Intelligent Environmental Estate – Ramboll

Reliable asset location and environmental data is the cornerstone of a digitally enabled network that is resilient and operates in harmony with the surrounding environment. This project will test the feasibility of developing automated processes that can identify assets and understand the surrounding environment using multi-scale aerial imagery. Our vision is to develop a system that supports scenario planning and strategic decision making by prioritising improvement sites and reporting network wide sustainability and biodiversity metrics.

The use of eCall data to identify road incidents and hazards – Chiltech Limited

This feasibility study looks at a service that harvests currently unused yet valuable eCall data, filters it and verifies it to reduce false alarms on RCCs. It publishes it to CHARM and potentially to other users such as National Vehicle Recovery and managing agents. It looks at the costs and benefits of a new approach, working through GDPR and develops a conceptual design focussed on HE operational needs that could be a commercial product of value for non-HE roads, for DfT and for export. We call this service “HECall”.