Smart roads that beam real-time traffic news to your car are coming to the UK

It’s a staple of futuristic action flicks. A supercar speeds down the motorway as an artificially intelligent voice barks remarks at the nameless Hollywood actor. 

Smart roads that beam real-time traffic news to your car are coming to the UK

While probably not in as glamorous a fashion, we could very well be seeing something like this in the real world in the not-too-distant future. Highways England, has announced today that under a new proposal, a network of fibre optic cables running through busy motorways in Britain will be able to transmit live traffic information to motorists. 

In a bid to improve road safety and reduce congestion on Britain’s busiest motorways, Highways England is to implement hundreds of miles of fibre optic cables that will run along the centre of busy motorways between London, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester. 

 The network of high-speed fibre optic cables will use superfast 5G broadband to beam information about road diversions, heavy traffic, as well as advising motorists to change lanes if there’s been an accident up ahead. Most excitingly, though, Highways England’s proposal says that the network will be able to anticipate potentially heavy traffic on roads and propose alternative routes to motorists, giving them real-time information.

As well as the connected fibre optic network on Britain’s motorways, Highways England will include the use of drones to alert the National Roads Telecommunications Service about congestion on the roads. Connected vehicles will also be able to alert Highways England whenever a pothole has formed. 

The plans will cost an estimated £30 billion for the next funding period between 2020 and 2025, with an aim to have the connected system online by as early as 2030.

“Because people’s journeys are important to us, we are setting out our high level aspirations which will help ensure the network continues to drive economic growth, jobs and prosperity, and keeps traffic moving today and into the future,” said Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England. 

Highways England began testing connected vehicles earlier this year, spending £150 million trialling the connected technology on the A2 and M2 between London and Kent. 

So far, Highways England has already begun converting roads into smart motorways by building overhead gantries warning of breakdowns, changing speed limits, and most controversially, getting rid of hard shoulders to make room for more lanes. 

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