Preparing the roads for driverless cars – UK competition seeks infrastructure ideas

Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission has launched a competition to seek ideas for making the UK road network ready for connected and autonomous vehicles.

The Roads for the Future competition, launched with Highways England and Innovate UK, is calling for ideas about how the country’s existing infrastructure can be adapted, how roads can be shared by both driverless and human-driven vehicles, and how such changes can be introduced alongside charging networks for electric cars.

It will also seek ideas that can work on different types of roads – from residential streets to motorways.

“We’re seeing a revolution on our roads, as more and more people move away from the traditional petrol and diesel car and towards new electric vehicles – the next step, driverless cars, will make an even bigger impact,” said Sir John Armitt, deputy chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.

“Our Roads for the Future competition offers the chance to be at the cutting edge of shaping how we travel for generations to come.” 

An expert judging panel, drawn from industry, academia, regional government and the public sector, will assess the competition entries.

Commissioner and chair of the competition jury Bridget Rosewell said: “There was a six-decade gap between the development of the first car, and the building of the first motorway – as car manufacturers invest billions in driverless vehicles we must ensure our roads network can accommodate them.

“The Roads for the Future competition offers the chance to do just that, encouraging people from across the infrastructure industry to come together and think creatively about how we adapt the network we have for the needs of future travellers.”

“Users of driverless vehicles can look forward to benefits in terms of enhanced mobility, safer roads, improved traffic flow and lower emissions,” said David Bizley, Chief Engineer, RAC. “But for all this to succeed, consumers must be sold on these benefits and be fully on-board the journey towards more connected and autonomous vehicles.

“The National Infrastructure Commission’s competition opens the door not only for stakeholders to have a say in the future of our road network but also for road users themselves to engage in the process.”

The competition, first announced in the Chancellor’s Budget speech in November, is open to entries until 14 March 2018.