Tech to improve Oxford’s roads and promote cycling

Oxfordshire County Council’s Smart City initiative is opening opportunities for the region’s road users with plans for exciting new technology to identify crumbling road surfaces more quickly being developed.

The council is working in partnership with entrepreneurs and academics to tackle the county’s traffic challenges as part of the initiative. As part of his speech at the Smart Places of the Future conference, Llewellyn Morgan, the county council’s head of innovation, will share his vision of Oxford as a high-tech beacon of urban transport innovation.

This includes ground-breaking projects that cover technology to identify crumbling road surfaces more quickly, developments to better protect and promote cycling and help people to dodge areas experiencing air pollution problems. Another project seeks to exploit the information-gathering capabilities of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs); how they can help with traffic movement and make road maintenance more efficient.

Morgan said: “Experimental CAV cars are fitted with special surveying equipment that measures distance to particular targets using pulsed laser light and a sensor. Working with Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software company, the team is testing this equipment, mapping Oxford’s road surfaces.

“Could the data be used quickly and accurately to identify where tarmac is breaking up? If so, it could help our highway maintenance teams to fix potholes and plan resurfacing work before further deterioration. A ‘prevention before cure’ approach has potential to save council tax payers thousands of pounds a year.”

Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for the Environment, said: “These exciting projects are turning Oxford into a ‘living laboratory’ where we test technology, discover and develop innovative congestion solutions, and promote healthy transport options. By working closely with industry and academics, we can help shape practical uses for ingenious high-tech innovations. It’s a win-win-win; for Oxfordshire’s residents, for local businesses and university researchers.”