Sector - Health & Safety

Highways England employs drones at M6 smart motorway

Highways England has been employing the use of drones at their recent upgrade projects to the M6, between Junctions Two and Four near Coventry, and the A14, between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Drones have been used, primarily, for the purposes of observation on these projects, allowing specialists to view the progress of projects in 3D quality across a vast expanse of highway, and providing minute details on the progression of gantries, foundations, and other such structures.

Once footage and imagery have been downloaded by the aforementioned specialists, the information that can be gained from them can be used to limit the extent of road closures around planned development works and thereby minimise the disruption to motorists.

The Highways England Smart Motorway sponsor, Peter Smith stated: “Safety is our top priority and we constantly pioneer ways of using new technology to keep people safe while we do this work.

“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.”

The M6 smart motorway project is currently underway, having amassed more than 1M working hours by the construction crews present on the dual carriageway, with the ultimate goal of the scheme being to increase the number of lanes on each side of the carriageway while also successfully installing electronic road signs, signals, and CCTV cameras.

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