Street light trial illuminates CAV landscape

19/01/2022
Chris Ames

National Highways has carried out a successful proof of concept trial of intelligent street lighting.

The government-owned company said the technology was able to communicate data to office equipment and tablet computers and the results will be used to help shape strategies for managing connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) infrastructure.

The Illuminate trial took place over five months last year at the M40 Junction 15 Longbridge roundabout near Birmingham.

National Highways said it is looking for technologies that can effectively support autonomous vehicles so they can push and receive messages across the network.

CCTV and wireless technology are among the kit that could be neatly stored inside the lanterns of street lights alongside the network, enabling existing infrastructure to be employed to push out information on traffic updates, speed limits and diversions.

National Highways said that while bandwidth issues have previously restricted airwave transmissions, the roll-out of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure will allow lighting to be used for a large-scale deployment of technology across the network.

In the trial, CCTV and communications technology were ‘hidden away’ in a new street lamp when lights at the junction were switched to LED.

National Highways’ innovations lead for the Midlands, Lisa Maric, said: ‘These are exciting times as we progress on our Digital Roads journey with the growth of digital technology and the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles that will fundamentally change how we use roads in the future.

‘National Highways is committed to ensuring we are at the forefront of this digital revolution and are preparing the way for the greener and safer roads of tomorrow.

‘Initial trials such as Illuminate will help us identify new innovations, technology and methods to meet our digital goals. We were pleased with how Illuminate performed as a proof of concept and the useful knowledge gained as we continue to plan for the roads of the future.’

Project manager Carla Vicente from Kier Highways, which worked on the Illuminate trial, said: ‘Being able to install technology, such as CCTV, while we are replacing street lighting is a more efficient way of working and provides better value for customers. More importantly, it is a safer and less disruptive way of working, reducing the amount of road closures required.

‘The Illuminate project was a great example of collaboration across internal Kier teams, our client National Highways, the supply chain and the manufacturer.’

The trial has been funded through National Highways’ Innovation and Modernisation Fund.

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