Costain team to develop smart roads with digital twins and robots

Image: Ded Mityay/

A Costain-led team has secured government funding to develop roads using digital twins, intelligent materials, data science and robotic monitoring.

Costain is working with Highways England and the University of Cambridge on the project, which was named as one of eight new Prosperity Partnerships (business-led projects that align with the government’s new Innovation Strategy). The eight projects are supported with an investment of almost £60m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation), and industry and universities.

Tim Embley, director of innovation at Costain, explained: “The result of our partnership will allow proactive, robotic interventions and road maintenance schemes that are more sustainable through the smarter use of resources. Using a digital twinning system which visualises the road and its condition, highways agencies and councils would be able to identify when roads need repairing and the use of self-sensing and self-healing materials will speed up the repairs.”

The partnership’s work would also negate the need for laborious and costly on-site inspections, prevent unnecessary delays to motorists because of road works, and reduce the emissions generated by roadworks.

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  1. Will this be in place before vehicles are zero emitters?
    Doesn’t in-car satellite navigation avoid congestion?
    Isn’t it time to consider why so many vehicles are in the same place and at the same time?
    Isn’t it time to start fulfilling this government’s pledge to encourage jobs and development in less congested parts of the country, which could dramatically reduce food producing land going under concrete, reduce the need for travel, relieve personal stress, restore work life balance.

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