The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has announced it will deploy £2m (€2.23m) to a programme using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in road maintenance.
The scheme, to be overseen by DfT in partnership with the UK-wide council asset management support network Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG), will see LCRIG implement technologies operating machine learning and AI in road maintenance and assessment, collating and analysing data on the condition of roads and road markings in order to inform local councils on where best to allocate investment. The technology, provided by Yorkshire-based condition survey firm Gaist, will provide councils with just under 150 million high definition images of nearly 100,000 miles (160,934.4km) of road.
Paula Claytonsmith, Managing Director of Gaist, said: “We are using over 146 million HD road images from our national databank and cutting-edge AI technology to assess over 96,000 miles of classified roads as part of this project. This is the largest exercise in assessing road marking readiness ever undertaken in England. Gaist are proud to have the AI capability that puts an SME UK business at the forefront of technological advances.”
Poorly maintained road markings represent a significant safety issue for drivers and cyclists, making it difficult for motorists to know where they can park, overtake and change lanes. The DfT intends to undertake surveys of footpaths and cycle routes with the aim of extending its AI in road maintenance scheme to improve the condition of cycle paths and footways across the UK.
Chris Grayling, the UK’s Transport Secretary at the time of publication, said: “Road markings play a vital role in keeping everyone who is using the road safe, so making sure they’re up to standard is imperative. This funding will allow for advanced AI learning technology to assess the condition of the markings to improve the safety of our roads for all users.”