Automated cone-laying vehicle deployed on UK highways

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An automated cone-laying vehicle has taken to the A5 and M54 in Shropshire following the successful completion of off-road testing.

As previously reported by Robotics & Innovation, the vehicle, developed by Highways England and industry experts, is being developed to remove the need for two workers to manually drop and lift roadwork cones.

The automated cone-laying vehicle will be tested further, putting out traffic management cones on the M4 in Berkshire before being rolled out across England by the end of the year.

As roadworks are often done overnight in all weathers, Highways England will use the vehicles to improve safety, free up workers for other tasks and save them from lifting 10 tonnes of equipment per shift.

Martin Bolt, head of lean and continuous improvement at Highways England, said: “The implications of these vehicles in protecting the safety of workers are immense and we are delighted that testing is progressing so well. By taking the human element out of laying cones we are eliminating one of the greatest risks for road workers.

“We have received a lot of support from the industry as a whole for the automated vehicle and we are now getting some very positive feedback from those workers who have been trialling the Highways Care prototype on the live roads network.

“If this testing proves as successful as we anticipate it will, motorists could be spotting more of these automated cone laying vehicles on the roads by the end of the year.”

There are currently two vehicles being developed, Highway Care has created the first, which is being trialled on Highways England’s road network. The second, developed by competitor King Highway Products, is currently undergoing testing in Holland before starting off-road trials in the UK.

For the tests to be considered a success the vehicles must lay or collect at least 400 cones every 10 seconds.