The UK government will make public funds available to some local authorities that intend to invest in new ‘smart’ road transport systems or technologies
The Department for Transport (DfT) said up to £2 million would be made available to local authorities in England through a new bidding process that is open until 30 September.
Technology that could be deployed includes that which allows communications to pass between different vehicles and roadside sensors that could relay “real-time traffic information” to drivers, the DfT said. Systems that enable information such as weather warnings and traffic conditions to be transmitted to vehicles could also win support, it said.
The DfT said it is anticipating bids for projects valuing at between £30,000 and £300,000 and that councils will have to pay for at least 5% of their projects’ costs.
“I want to deliver better, more enjoyable journeys and this £2 million fund will help councils invest in new technology to enhance the experience of driving,” roads minister Andrew Jones said. “Britain has a proud history of innovation and I am delighted that councils will be able to use this money to develop systems to make journeys easier and safer.”
Westminster City Council previously won central government funding to help it build an app that “directs drivers to empty parking spaces in central London and then takes payments automatically for using the spot”, the DfT said.
In a new innovation strategy published earlier this year, Highways England outlined plans to use technology to improve road safety and the flow of traffic, deliver better information to road users, improve environmental outcomes and inform maintenance programs.
At the time Ben Gardner, expert in autonomous vehicles technology and regulation at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Initiatives such as this should put the UK in a strong position to attract investment and testing. The legacy of this will be an innovative and connected road network which boasts improved safety, traffic management and user satisfaction.”