4mph Robot Traffic Cones Could Jazz up the Roadworks of the Future

By Gary Cutlack on at

An infrastructure specialist thinks it might be able to technology-away the problem of roadworks, by rolling out – haha yes literally rolling them out on wheels – a fleet of self-driving traffic cones.

This swarm of smartcones could be deployed at the roadside whenever some roadworks need doing, then be summoned into place remotely at the touch of a big button marked CONE FLEET ASSEMBLE. This would mean that cones could be put out much faster, there would be no need to pay men to do it and risk their lives dicing with motorway traffic, and they could be told to return to the hard shoulder as soon as work's completed or shelved for the night. Making roads better through little wheels, 4G, batteries and loads of money from any council bonkers enough to pay for a robot cone division.

It's the idea of infrastructure company Costain, which says that a 15-minute job of coning-off a lane or three of motorway could be done by a squadron of automated cones in just one minute; better than the 15 minutes it takes your traditional high-vis human. Multiply that by all the roadworks and it's probably loads of hours saved, hours all our brave road workers could then spend happily leaning on their spades and giving passing Audis the finger.

Costain's Richard Golledge has spent a lot of time thinking about making traffic cones into the sort of exciting thing that Elon Musk might retweet a news story about, telling attendees at the Cheltenham Science Festival that: "Our ideal solution is the cones drive off to recharge and clean, and another cone will replace them. If they are hit, they will send an alert down the line that they are breached, and another will fill the hole."

Cone line breach at sector 91. Autofill engage. Cone 338569 authorised to travel at maximum speed. [Auto Express]

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