UK highways to go naked

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Emerging connected and automated mobility (CAM) technologies will eliminate the need for road signage, with UK drivers seeing ‘naked highways’ by 2027, a new report has revealed.  

The UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap from Zenzic reports that from as early as 2020, new planning guidance and blueprints for CAM-ready cities, towns, highways and rural roads will look to accommodate CAM services for efficient operations. This will see new highway schemes move away from high cost (£10m/km (US$12.6m/km) of smart motorway) assets in favor of digital infrastructure. 

In addition, improved vehicle connectivity will eliminate the need for new road signage. The physical evolution and decommissioning of signs and signals expected from 2027 will be the first visible indication that new road infrastructure has been deployed, followed by the widespread adoption of in-car signalling (using in-car technology to digitally display speed limits, highway exits, and traffic updates, for example) in 2028. 

The transition, development and widespread adoption of digital road infrastructure will be informed by new standards, following agreed models for the digitization of sign assets, as well as the specification of new safety services. In the next 10 years, this will include identifying common approaches to safety and design standards and in the next five years it will describe the mapping requirements for digital road infrastructure. 

Having the infrastructure in place to facilitate the development and testing of self-driving technologies and services will be key to unlocking insights that inform these standards and regulations, service design, and technology requirements.  

To develop and bring to life the infrastructure that will enable ‘naked highways’,  mature testing procedures and standards need to be in place.  

Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Zenzic

“We are in a period of dramatic social and economic change. Transport is fundamental to the change and will soon be transformed by the new technologies associated with connectivity and automation, including digital infrastructure that will change the face of the UK’s highways,” explained Zenzic CEO Daniel Ruiz.   

“The naked highway concept aims to bring economic benefits in terms of local and national efficiencies, as well as tangible benefits to public mobility including improved safety and better routing through centralised communication with drivers,” he concluded.   

Zenzic (formerly Meridian) was created by government and industry to champion the UK connected and self-driving ecosystem and lead the UK in accelerating the self-driving revolution. 

‘Roadmap to 2030’ can be downloaded here.

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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