For the first time, VMS are being used using smartphone data to give drivers live times for diversions during road closures.
Contractors for Highways England have introduced the technology on the M60 and M62 near Manchester, which is currently being upgraded to a smart motorway along a 17-mile stretch between Sale and Rochdale.
A temporary electronic sign is being used to provide drivers with live journey times for diversions while sections of the motorway are closed overnight for major construction work.
This technology has been developed by Rennicks UK Ltd and involves using crowdsourced GPS location data from drivers’ smartphones which is fed through virtual journey time software to provide accurate diversion times.
The journey times are uploaded to a temporary electronic sign at the start of the diversion route, and updated every five minutes.
Stephen Hill, Senior Project Manager at Highways England, said, “We’re pleased we’ve been able to use the new technology to provide drivers with live times for diversions so they know exactly how long their journey will take when sections of the motorway are closed.
“We would previously have had to install number plate recognition equipment along diversion routes to provide this information, which wouldn’t have been a realistic option for a scheme like ours where different diversions may be needed each night.
“The new technology relies entirely on using remote data so there’s no need for equipment along the diversion route – just for an electronic sign to be put in place at the start of the closure.”
Cathal D’Arcy, Rennicks Group Commercial Manager, added, ”Clear and accurate information, presented to drivers in a timely manner, will improve the overall network experience for motorists.
“The use of Rennicks Virtual Journey Time System (RVJTS) delivered by Rennicks UK, and their variable message sign (VMS) rental partner Clancy Plant on the Manchester smart motorway project, shows one step towards that reality.”
More than 400 people are currently working on the £208 million project to create a smart motorway on the M60 and M62 near Manchester.
The technology was first explained last September on the Smart Highways website – you can read and hear more here.
A separate system has also been developed by Mobile Visual Information Systems (MVIS) which displays current journey times to the end of the roadworks on 11 Bartco temporary VMS, positioned along the Manchester smart motorway route.
The system uses data from Highways England’s National Traffic Operations Centre in Birmingham to calculate accurate times between each electronic sign and the end of the roadworks.
Matt Felce, MVIS Technical Manager, said, “MVIS is an innovative firm, and so was pleased to have the opportunity to work in partnership with Highways England to develop the first solution to enable real time journey time information from the National Traffic Operations Centre to be displayed on portable variable message signs.”