National Highways’ digital roads strategy promises a virtual twin of England’s motorways and major road network to predict the time and location of maintenance issues.
Under the plan, drawings and static models will be replaced with digital versions which can identify when and where potholes and other problems occur, and combine live data from sensors on the road surface with a digital twin which visualises the road and its condition.
National Highways, which replaced Highways England and the Highways Agency, believes this will reduce the time and cost of road inspections, prevent traffic jams and reduce emissions from roadworks by an estimated 50%.
The road twinning system is being developed in collaboration with UK Research and Innovation, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the EU MSCA COFUND programme, Costain and the University of Cambridge.
Funding for the project is available from two sources: £8.6m from the EPSRC Digital Roads Prosperity Partnership and £6m from the EU MSCA COFUND Future Roads Fellowships programme.
Other initiatives in the strategy include intelligent road materials able to repair themselves using self-healing materials and autonomous cone-laying machines.