UK start-ups Alchera Technologies and Wordnerds have each received around £60,000 (US$78,000) from National Highways, along with mentoring from Costain, to develop their AI technology to improve safety and efficiency of road work zones.
The projects were selected as winners in a National Highways competition, supported by Connected Places Catapult, launched to encourage innovative solutions to improve road users’ experience of roadworks on England’s motorways and A-roads.
Cambridge-based Alchera Technologies is using AI technology to monitor data around how roadworks and road closures impact driver behaviour and traffic flow.
Powered by graph convolutional neural networks providing predicted traffic data, a trial will begin in January 2024 to attempt to enable road engineers and traffic controllers to quickly respond to changing conditions and make informed decisions when conducting essential roadworks.
Meanwhile, Wordnerds, a data company based in Gateshead, is using AI-powered text analytics tools to monitor and evaluate online comment in relation to local roadworks, whether on social media, blogs or public forums. T his data will provide project delivery teams with a better understanding of customer perceptions in order to make evidenced-based improvements on project sites, benefitting road users and residents alike.
Both Alchera Technologies and Wordnerds have been mentored by Costain throughout the competition process, learning from customer and traffic management experts to see how the technology could be applied to real-world scenarios
“The winning proposals are hugely compelling because they have the potential to solve complex, often intangible infrastructure problems with a clever blend of cutting-edge technology and deep industry knowledge,” says David Taylor, interim managing director for transportation at Costain. “Our customers increasingly value working with suppliers who can tackle difficult challenges with a range of skillsets. By combining our extensive experience in road planning, construction and customer engagement with innovative technology such as data analytics and AI, we can make essential road network improvements in better, more efficient ways, to the benefit of the UK’s road users and residents.”