The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has announced the joint winners of the Roads for the Future competition that sought to find ideas for how the UK’s road network could be adapted to maximize the potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
Launched in January by the NIC in partnership with Highways England (HE) and Innovate UK, the competition attracted 81 entries from across the country, with five being shortlisted for the final stage. The competition followed publication of the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which examined preparing the country’s roads for both electric and driverless cars.
Among its recommendations were that the government should develop a research framework for CAVs, particularly focusing on the changes that will be required to the way that roads are planned, designed and operated to maximize the benefits that they could bring.
NIC chairman Sir John Armitt and the chair of the judging panel Bridget Rosewell, an NIC commissioner and non-executive chair of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), announced that the winners are:
• City Science – based in Exeter, this entry examines how sections of roads in urban areas could initially be dedicated to driverless vehicles, as a key step in kick-starting their take-up and integrating them safely into the existing transport network. Segregated routes are often used to improve congestion and make travelling safer, offering a practical and secure way of providing prioritized access for certain vehicles, such as bus lanes and separated cycle ways. For autonomous vehicles, segregated zones would enable enhanced network capacity, increased safety, reduced risk, and greater integration with the existing transport network;
• Leeds City Council – Traffic lights are important tools to manage traffic flow. This entry examined how the data generated from digitally connected cars could be used to improve traffic light sequencing, allowing highway authorities to better manage traffic on their roads and reduce tailbacks. The team will use simulations of roads across Leeds to test their idea.
The winners will each receive £25,000 (US$32,500).
“We are delighted to be joint winners of this fantastic competition. Over the past three months, this project has given us the opportunity to explore the enormous potential of CAVs and set out a tangible vision to deliver their benefits on the UK’s roads,” commented Laurence Oakes-Ash, chief executive of City Science.
“It is essential that we get the roll-out of connected and autonomous vehicles right, using them in ways that can integrate with mass transit, promote healthy cities and create successful communities.”
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Richard Lewis, said, “It’s a fantastic achievement for us to be recognized nationally for our work on transport innovation. We want Leeds to be a smart city and at the forefront of developing technologies to help transform our transport network to improve people’s everyday lives.
“While digitally connected and autonomous vehicles are still a long way down the road, they have the potential to offer massive benefits in major cities like Leeds. We look forward to continuing our work with all our partners and stakeholders to turn this innovation into reality.”