Highways England has deployed its very own eyes in the sky. It’s running drones in order to keep a watch over the progress of work on motorways.
The use of drones, it says, helps reduce disruption for motorists, and allows engineers to plan more accurately.
Lane closures can be reduced because the drones allow monitoring of a much larger 3D area. It can also be carried out more quickly.
The ‘bird’s eye’ view also allows more meticulous planning of future works. It means getting a better idea of what equipment is needed and what closures will be necessary.
The ongoing M6 upgrade between junctions 2 and 4 near Coventry is benefitting from the technology. The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade has also made use of it. (Parts of the latter are a year ahead of schedule, too.)
The M6 project is gargantuan. The smart motorway upgrade will have nine emergency areas, new concrete central reservations, two new noise barriers and a range of new electronic monitoring and signage systems.
“Safety is our top priority and we constantly pioneer ways of using new technology to keep people safe while we do this work,” said Highways England Smart Motorway sponsor, Peter Smith.
“The drone is a fantastic piece of kit that provides us with detailed insight into scheme progress across a large area of the works in a much quicker and efficient way.
“It surveys up to 10km in a single day and then creates an accurate 3D model of the works in just one hour.
“Ordinarily, inspections by road workers require lane closures for safety reasons and can take up to several days. By using the drone we are able to reduce lane closures because we can scan a much larger area in a quicker period of time.”