In Brief

Robot traffic cones ‘will cut roadworks queues’

Creators say remote-controlled bollards can move off motorways in less than a minute

Engineering giant Costain has given traffic cones a hi-tech makeover in a bid to reduce road congestion and improve safety for workers. 

The remote-controlled bollards, dubbed “robo-cones”, can be “driven” onto motorways to close lanes when required, and left sitting by the side of the road when not in use, Auto Express reports.

Collecting standard traffic cones after roadworks have been completed is a “notoriously dangerous job”, says the magazine. Road workers frequently close off large sections of motorway in order “to avoid making treacherous sorties more often than is essential”.

Presenting the prototype robo-cone at the Cheltenham Science Festival, engineer Richard Golledge said the most dangerous part of setting up a row of cones is the “taper” - the angled start of the line that begins at the edge of a lane and moves out to close it completely.

“It takes 15 minutes to do a taper, but with the remote-controlled cones it will take less than a minute,” he said.

The robo-cones could also significantly reduce traffic jams caused by roadworks, since they can quickly return to the hard shoulder when no longer required, The Sun says.  

Before the prototype cones are permitted on UK roads, Costain will need to seek approval from the Highways Agency. 

At around £100 each, the robo-cones are also “hugely more expensive” than standard bollards, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The pricier hi-tech versions are fitted with GPS tracking system, so they could be tracked down if “stolen by students”, adds The Times.

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