Competition seeks to manage hazards better

09/11/2023
Chris Ames

National Highways has launched a new innovation competition offering businesses with new ideas on how to manage hazards across its network up to £90,000 to develop their concepts.

The government-owned company is working with Connected Places Catapult on the Hazard Protection on Roads Accelerator.

It said the applications could offer a completely novel approach to the issue, apply existing technologies in new areas or develop new technologies for existing areas.

New technology may offer automated notifications to traffic officers

Head of strategy implementation James Gibson said: ‘If we can find better ways of identifying, analysing and responding to hazards, that could ultimately help to prevent road accidents and people coming to harm on our roads.

‘In this competition, we are particularly targeting small or medium enterprises that may not have worked with us before and could have, as yet undiscovered, innovation gems to share with us around dealing with hazards.’

The competition is open to small or medium-sized enterprises with less than 250 employees and innovations must fall within one of the following categories:

  • Gathering data about hazards on roads – technologies that contribute to identifying and gathering data on hazards such as CCTV data, analytics, satellite and in-car data including GPS and vehicle sensors
  • Streamlining hazard responses – helping to respond quickly and accurately to any identified hazard, solutions could include automatically alerting drivers, automated responses and clean-up of hazards and notifying professionals such as traffic officers
  • Improving driver notification of hazards – better notification to drivers when a hazard is identified or, for planned roadworks, making sure drivers are aware and know how to safely navigate
  • Improving testing of hazard detection technology – this aims to assess the real-world performance of any technology, enabling smoother software updates and also to generate datasets on hazard detection performance
  • Influencing drivers to reduce unsafe behaviour – the company wants to identify and accelerate any innovations that could reduce unsafe driving behaviour such as using mobile phones at the wheel.

Applicants have until midnight on New Year’s Eve to submit their ideas, after which judges will select up to 10 finalists to take their designs forward with funding of £15,000 to £30,000 to develop their ideas.

Finalists will then be whittled down to five and those projects awarded up to £60,000 to deliver their trials over a five-month period.

All 10 finalists will be guided through a bespoke programme tailored to their requirements offering coaching and mentoring, business development opportunities and technical and procurement support.

Anybody interested in applying can join an application support webinar taking place from 2pm until 3.30pm on 21 November.

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