Highways England is exploring the use of connected and autonomous plant (CAP) equipment to find out how it can improve on-site safety.
A research project led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) will examine the potential benefits in terms of worker safety and welfare, as well as benefits related to construction quality, productivity and costs, from automating activities on construction and maintenance schemes that currently require human intervention.
TRL will then lead a field demonstration of CAP technology to test these benefits in reality, Highways Magazine reports.
As Intelligent Instructor explains, working alongside heavy construction plant is widely acknowledged as one of the most dangerous jobs in the UK. Workers are exposed to a number of risks, including on-site construction plant, hazardous buried assets and the presence of live traffic.
Previous research has already shown how CAP can reduce the risk to worker safety during excavation practices, for example by detecting hazards and alerting operators of excavation systems to avoid asset strikes, according to TRL chief technologist Alex Wright.
“This has provided a baseline of what CAP can achieve, but its potential is much greater,” Wright said. “CAP could also be introduced to benefit wider construction activities. Location-based technologies could improve monitoring and sensing of workers across construction sites, to reduce general exposure to hazards from site vehicles and vehicles driven by the public, for example.
“These technologies could also enhance the construction process; through improved logistics for plant, control of plant vehicles to constrain movement, and to benefit the construction of road pavements via the delivery of smoother and better compacted surfaces.”
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