Automatic motorway cone-layers to begin testing

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Published on 20 January 2020 by Mike Waters

Highways England has announced that it hopes to begin testing on automated cone-laying vehicles for the country’s motorways and A-roads as soon as next month.

Currently, cones are placed on roads in person and this exposes work crews to safety risks from traffic passing close by and at speed. It is also a heavy manual task – Highways England has noted that “A typical 4km closure involves putting down… approximately 260-300 cones, meaning that two workers will both handle between 5-6 tonnes per shift in cones alone” – that is often undertaken at night and in adverse weather conditions.

The development of automated machinery to do this instead, so freeing up two workers per shift for other tasks and improving their safety, will be funded by Highways England and will include the assistance of experts from the traffic management industry. As an initial step, two automated cone-laying vehicles are due to begin testing in Lutterworth next month to see if they meet safety requirements for work crews and other road users.

Commenting, Highways England Group Leader Martin Bolt said: “By taking out the human element in the laborious task of putting out cones, we will be taking out an element of potential risk. As well as taking away this physical labour, these automated machines could also save valuable person hours and allow us to redeploy the workforce to other traffic management duties.”

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