Managing Road Hazards is Key to £90,000 Competition

In an era where road safety and efficiency are paramount, innovative solutions are constantly being sought to manage and mitigate hazards on major roadways. A diverse group of companies has stepped up to this challenge, participating in an esteemed innovation competition designed to harness new technologies and ideas for enhancing road safety. Among those rising to the occasion are VivaCity and Valerann, leading a pack of nine trailblazers awarded funding to bring their visionary concepts to life.

The competition, hosted by England’s National Highways, earmarks up to £90,000 for finalists to develop and refine their proposals, targeting a wide array of potential road hazards. These hazards range from the peril of unsafe driving behaviors to the physical dangers posed by potholes, flooding, and unexpected obstructions. The ultimate goal? To significantly improve safety across the National Highways network.

The ideas shining through this competition are not just innovative but varied, covering a spectrum of technologies and approaches. Among the standout proposals is the utilization of 3D radar technology, aimed at anticipating weather-triggered hazards on the road. Other finalists have put forward suggestions like leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) for comprehensive road monitoring, a tool that could empower traffic control centers, traffic officers, and even inspectors on the move. Additionally, a proposal for virtual reality-based training courses outlines a future where drivers can hone their skills and awareness in a fully immersive environment.

Highlighting an inclusive approach, this competition specifically aimed to draw in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that may not have previously collaborated with National Highways. This move acknowledges the potential untapped innovative capacities these companies hold, particularly in navigating challenges associated with road hazards.

As part of the competition framework, these pioneering companies will not only receive financial backing but also gain access to valuable coaching and mentoring. This comprehensive support package extends to business development opportunities, alongside guidance on technical and procurement processes.

Voicing her support for the initiative, Erika Lewis, a leading figure at the Connected Places Catapult, expressed enthusiasm for bridging the gap between SMEs and large infrastructural entities. The aim is to nurture the development of novel ideas and assist in the commercialization of new, road-safety enhancing technologies.

Following an initial funding phase for designing trial proposals, a select five projects will advance to receive further financial support, up to £60,000 each, to execute their trials. This progression underscores a strong belief in the potential of these innovations to make a tangible difference in road safety and hazard management.

Among the diverse array of projects highlighted are several notable endeavors:

  • Esitu Solutions aims to develop a downloadable virtual reality training app for the Meta Quest headset, designed to promote safer driving practices.
  • Vesos is working on TeCall, a system designed to harvest crucial data from post-collision eCall systems, enhancing hazard alerts with comprehensive vehicle information.
  • Using 3D radar technology, Pram seeks to anticipate weather-related and surface condition hazards, offering a technologically advanced solution for hazard prediction.
  • VivaCity’s proposal utilizes sensors to monitor interactions among road users, facilitating proactive responses to increasing near-miss incidents.
  • Roadside Technologies is developing an innovative solution for automated detection of hazardous objects, promising to enhance safety and journey smoothness in work zones.
  • CrossTech is introducing a stopped vehicle detection system, leveraging computer vision technology to improve roadway safety.
  • Route Reports and TransPix both explore video analytics for hazard detection, aiming to revolutionize road monitoring with AI-driven insights.
  • Lastly, Valerann is proposing an AI-based data analytics platform, offering real-time insights into road situations and risk modeling to improve situational awareness for traffic authorities.

The enthusiasm and optimism surrounding these projects are palpable, with James Gibson, a programme manager at National Highways, expressing high hopes for their potential to enhance safety and prevent harm on roads.

This competition not only highlights the critical need for continuous innovation in road safety but also showcases the wealth of creative and technological capabilities residing within SMEs. As these projects move from concept to trial, the journey ahead promises to bring us closer to a future where road journeys are not just safer but smarter.

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