Intelligent street lights set for National Highways’ digital roads

Intelligent street lights enabled with 5G, IoT sensors and cameras could form part of National Highways’ digital roads plan following a successful trial by Kier on the M40.

A proof of concept trial, the so-called ‘Illuminate’ project, was carried out over five months last year by Kier Highways on the M40 junction 15 Longbridge roundabout near Birmingham.

The trial was successful, showing the technology was capable of communicating data to office equipment and tablet computers.

The knowledge gained in the trial will be used to help shape National Highways’ strategy for managing the connected and autonomous infrastructure.

National Highways is looking for technologies that can effectively support autonomous vehicles so they can push and receive messages across the network. These messages could be about speed limits, incidents, or updates on clearance times – useful information to help drivers plan their journeys.

This would involve a large-scale deployment of technology across the network and street lights may be the answer, according to National Highways.

Kier Highways project manager Carla Vicente said: “Being able to install technology, such as CCTV, while we are replacing street lighting is a more efficient way of working and provides better value for customers. More importantly, it is a safer and less disruptive way of working, reducing the amount of road closures required.

“The Illuminate project was a great example of collaboration across internal Kier teams, our client National Highways, the supply chain and the manufacturer.

“This proof of concept will feed into other future projects and the learnings will help to deliver more collaborative and sustainable projects which support National Highways’ Carbon Net Zero targets.”

National Highways innovations lead for the Midlands Lisa Maric added: “These are exciting times as we progress on our Digital Roads journey with the growth of digital technology and the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles that will fundamentally change how we use roads in the future.

“National Highways is committed to ensuring we are at the forefront of this digital revolution and are preparing the way for the greener and safer roads of tomorrow.

“Initial trials such as Illuminate will help us identify new innovations, technology and methods to meet our digital goals. We were pleased with how Illuminate performed as a proof of concept and the useful knowledge gained as we continue to plan for the roads of the future.”

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