Joint venture to create sustainable road maintenance schemes

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Costain, Highways England and the University of Cambridge will work together to develop sustainable roads using digital twins, intelligent materials, data science and robotic monitoring

The new road maintenance is among the new technologies being developed through eight new Prosperity Partnerships. The innovative approach will help keep the nation moving by connecting the digital and physical to deliver safer, greener and more efficient UK road networks.

The projects align with the government’s new Innovation Strategy and will be supported with an investment of almost £60m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), businesses and universities.

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.

UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £19m in the projects through its long-running Prosperity Partnerships initiative.

Industry and university partners are investing a further £40m.

Robotic intervention

Tim Embley, Costain’s director of innovation, said: “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 visualizes 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.”

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