New robot-style traffic cones in development

They could help ease congestion and improve the safety of road workers


A new robot-style traffic cone is being developed which could help ease congestion and improve the safety of road workers.

The ‘robo-cone’ has been developed by Costain, the UK technology-based construction and engineering company and will work by sitting on the side of the road until they need to be used.

When the ‘robo-cones’ are required to close a lane, the smart ones will move out from the roadside at the touch of a button.

This new generation of traffic cone will hopefully replace the traditional cone, which at the moment must be placed on a lane by workers who risk their lives every day.

Generally, when lanes need to be closed, road workers have to shut off large sections at a time in order to avoid making dangerous charges into the road than is necessary.

These new robo-cones will be able to sit on the side of the road when not being used and when required will move out into position travelling at around 4mph.

Using smart cones instead of road workers will not only improve road safety but will also save motorists from having to slow down for miles of coned-off areas, as just small sections of road at a time could be closed off.

When road workers have to set up a row of traffic cones, the most dangerous part is the ‘taper’, which is the angled start of the row that begins at the edge of a lane then moves out to close if off totally.

“It takes 15 minutes to do a taper, but with the remote-controlled cones it will take less than a minute,” said Costain’s Richard College, after presenting his company’s cones at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

Whilst the cones still require someone to send them out at the push of a button, these robo-cones could help ease congestion and improve road safety for workers.

Autonomous cones that could come out of the side of the road automatically “would be perfect” said William Clifford, another member of staff at Costain who’s involved in the project, conceding “we are far from that”.

According to Mr Clifford, the main motivation behind robo-cone was that “people die” putting out traditional traffic cones and added: “It is also important to cut down the number of time lanes are coned off to make it better for the motorist.”

Back in 2010, a traffic-management company was fined £100,000 after a worker died to collect traffic cones from the central reservation on the M4.


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