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New ‘robo’ traffic cones could be introduced to ease congestion

Traffic cones could soon be robotic under plans developed by British engineers.

Construction firm Costain has unveiled new traffic cones that can wheel themselves off roads and to the side of motorways when they are no longer needed. While the cones can only move at 4mph, the prototype devices could help ease congestion for motorists.

Currently, traffic cones all still have to be dropped off and picked up by road workers, meaning roads have to have lanes cordoned off or closed completely while cones are moved, due to the dangerous nature of working on live stretches of road.

The system was unveiled at the Cheltenham Science Festival yesterday. Despite the cones being able to move electronically, they will not be completely autonomous, as confirmed by one of the device’s senior software engineers.

The cones are GPS-operated and have only been tested in set-up situations so far, and would need Highways England to approve them before they could be used on motorways. They will also be far more costly than standard cones, too, and are expected to be around £100, according to the Telegraph, as opposed to normal ones which start from around £5 each for the smaller cones.

A Costain spokesman said: “These robocones were developed by our technology specialists, to spark ideas of how inexpensive robotics, bolted to the humble traffic cone, could improve our everyday lives.

“We believe smart technology like this is the best way to increase the capacity of our transportation networks and enhance the quality of service for everyone who uses roads.”

Ted Welford

By

June 7, 2018

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