Intelligent street lighting illuminates the way to digital roads for National Highways - CILT(UK)
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Intelligent street lighting illuminates the way to digital roads for National Highways

21 January 2022/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Transport Planning


New research has been carried out which will shed some light on how street lighting could be used to pave the way for autonomous vehicles in the future.

Closed circuit television and wireless technology that enables vehicles to communicate is among the kit that could be neatly stored inside the lanterns of street lights alongside the National Highways network.

According to National Highways, this could enable the existing infrastructure to be employed in the future to push out information on traffic updates, speed limits and diversions – helping vehicles to plan journeys more effectively.

Street lighting has often been viewed as a standalone asset but technology that has emerged in recent years could enable wider use of this vital infrastructure.

Bandwidth has restricted air wave transmissions in the past, but with the roll-out of 5G and IoT infrastructures lighting could be equipped with devices such as wireless access points and cameras.

A ‘proof of concept’ trial on this intelligent street lighting has been carried out on the M40 junction 15 Longbridge roundabout near Birmingham.

Drivers would have been oblivious to the CCTV and communications technology hidden away in the street lamp as it was installed when the lights were switched to the improved, greener LED lighting.

The Illuminate trial took place over five months last year and successfully proved the concept. The technology was able to communicate data to office equipment and tablet computers.

The knowledge gained in the trial will be used to help shape National Highways’ strategy for managing the Connected and Autonomous infrastructure.

National Highways is looking for technologies that can effectively support autonomous vehicles so they can push and receive messages across the network. These messages could be about speed limits, incidents, updates on clearance times – useful information to help drivers plan their journeys.

National Highways’ Innovations Lead for the Midlands, Lisa Maric, said: “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.”

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