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‘Intelligent’ mapping service planned to create safer roads

‘Intelligent’ mapping service planned to create safer roads

Vehicle-mounted image recognition technology is being used on Britain’s roads to create ‘intelligent’ maps of roadside assets.

The Roadside Asset Data Service (RoADS) initiative, being driven by national mapping agency Ordnance Survey, is using near real-time data to allow for better management of road infrastructure and ensure safer, more operational roads.

Before RoADS, the technology to monitor the ‘health’ of roadside infrastructure was not available to the organisations responsible for maintaining it. This data gap causes maintenance delays – potentially causing danger to road users and severe disruption.

Over the past 12 months, RoADS has mapped 1.5 million features and identified 16,600 areas of damage to outdated infrastructure.

The computer-vision technology was originally designed as an advanced driver assistance system, using a camera to scan for potential hazards. By warning drivers of possible collisions, it gives them time to avoid the impact or at least lessen its severity.

Trials of this technology have been taking place in the north east of England, used on-board Northumbrian Water Group’s maintenance vehicles.

Speaking about the trial, Clive Surman-Wells, who leads Innovation Partnerships at Northumbrian Water Group, said: “Accurate and reliable mapping of things like manholes, fire hydrants and valves helps us to be more efficient in our maintenance and repair work by finding things quickly first time, every time.”

The technology has the ability to monitor roadwork and construction projects on transport networks, helping manage and streamline road maintenance.

There are plans to expand the initiative nationwide, using a range of collaborators. The hope is that a street-level view of Britain’s roads will be created, mapping the impact of everything from new infrastructure to extreme weather.

Ordnance Survey hope the service will be ready to launch in 2021.

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