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Highways England sets out its plan for innovation on England's roads

The £150 million Innovation Strategy focuses on harnessing new technology, including trials of driverless car technology on motorways

HIGHWAYS England has today published its Innovation Strategy, which sets how it plans to invest £150 million into improving England’s major roads through innovation by 2021.

The eight-page document details how Highways England plans to keep up with advances in technology to benefit road users, unlock economic growth, deal with increasing traffic and pollution, and provide road users with information to help them make the best choices about their journeys.

One of the plan’s central ideas includes a connected corridor, or ‘wi-fi road’, which would see cars and road infrastructure wirelessly connected so drivers are able to get advanced news of accidents, congestion or road closures. The technology, due to be trialled in Kent, will wirelessly transmit the latest journey information directly to vehicles which, depending on the circumstances, could suggest changing lanes or taking an alternative route.

The strategy will also seek to improve the signalling of junctions on motorways to increase traffic flows by timing the signals according to the time of day and traffic.

As part of the strategy, Highways England will also be investigating the use of sensors that could provide better information about the condition of roads, bridges and tunnels around the country to allow for more targeted, efficient and cost effective maintenance.

There are also plans to introduce a collaborative traffic management programme on the M25 and trial radar technology in tunnels to improve how breakdowns are detected.

The strategy includes funding for testing of driverless cars to be tested on motorways by the end of 2017, in accordance with an announcement made by George Osbourne in the March budget.

Highways England will have published a plan a bout how it intends to implement this strategy by the end of April.

Roads Minister Andrew Jones said:

'Innovation is absolutely critical to our £15 billion investment plan for roads. A more reliable road network is good news for motorists and good news for the economy. Quicker, safer roads will improve access to jobs and opportunities. Placing Britain at the forefront of innovation and research in this area will also create more jobs and investment.'

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