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Highways Technology

Author: James Bulleid, Technology Director

 We’ve seen a huge rise in the use of technology. The consumer market is booming – with the majority of people owning at least one smart phone. The purpose of a mobile phone is no longer solely for making and receiving calls. The world has been transformed by application based technology and faster internet connections over the cellular network, giving us access to the internet at our fingertips.

In the same vein, a road is no longer a strip of tarmac – ok, having set-out drainage on site I know there is a lot more to it than that, but you get the gist. The highway of today consists of a multitude of technology devices and systems, which are used to transmit messages to motorists and control the network. However, I wonder whether there is a distinct difference between the use of technology on our highways and that of the consumer world.

When new technology is invented, it is snapped up by the consumer market – if you want to charge your phone wirelessly – go and buy a wireless charger. If you want to generate electricity from the sun, go and buy yourself a solar panel. It feels as though there is a relatively small gap between capability and reality.

Now, what about the highway? The gap between capability and reality seems far greater. Fully autonomous vehicles are driving the roads in several European countries, so the capability is clearly there, but how long will it be before we all have them? What will the highway look like in ten years time?

Of course, the highways technology market is a fantastic place to be and our dependency on technology will undoubtedly increase at a rate of knots. I wonder which capabilities will translate into reality? One thing is for sure, we will operate at the heart of this exciting market.