Arup shortlisted in competition to make streets fit for driverless cars

Brad Ryan Former UKIMEA Press Officer,London
28 September 2018

In May 2018, Arup’s transport planners were shortlisted in the National Infrastructure Commission’s Roads for the Future competition – to design streets fit for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

Intelligently managed kerbside space is the key to unlocking the benefits of a CAV-enabled world, whilst maintaining vibrant streets where people want to walk, cycle, and take public transport. ”

Fatema headshot Fatema Karim Khaku Senior Planner

The entry – called FlexKerbs – looked at how CAVs can co-exist with all road users and the future management of the side-of-the-road through the introduction of flexible kerb space. Driven by local policy and real-time data, FlexKerbs intelligently adjust the allocation of kerb space uses throughout the day and week to ensure that streets achieve local transport goals by accommodating or managing demand from all street users. Over the course of a day, for instance, a single FlexKerb segment could function as an extra-wide cycle lane in the morning peak, a pedestrian plaza at lunchtime, a CAV rank in the evening and a loading zone overnight.

Arup’s study was shortlisted out of 81 entrants by Sir John Armitt and the judging panel – along with four other ideas – and received funding to progress the idea. The Arup team used this funding to develop a technical and technological feasibility study to demonstrate how FlexKerbs could benefit cities once CAVs are introduced to our streets, testing FlexKerb functionality on a typical Central London high street. Specifically, informed by local policy and user demand, the team designed an illustrative FlexKerb schedule for one weekday to show how flexible use of a busy street’s kerbside could enable safe and convenient CAV pick-up and drop-off whilst maintaining—or even enhancing—the urban environment for pedestrians, cyclists and other transport users. Working with colleagues from across the Arup world, the team tested the FlexKerb schedule and CAV behaviours using traffic modelling software.

Cheapside sketch - Morning Peak Cheapside sketch - Morning Peak
FlexKerbs looks at how CAVs can co-exist with all road users and the future management of the side-of-the-road through the introduction of flexible kerb space.

With the arrival of connected and autonomous vehicles around the corner, it’s critical that we make sure our city streets are equipped to respond to them. ”

Harrison headshot Harrison Peck Transport Planner
Harrison and Fatema image Harrison and Fatema image
The team had three months to develop a FlexKerbs feasibility study and demonstrated how the scheme could benefit cities once CAVs have been introduced to our streets.

Upon completion of this study, the Arup team concluded that FlexKerbs would be both technologically achievable, using a suite of existing and emerging technologies, and technically feasible, having successfully demonstrated the concept of policy-led and demand-informed kerb space allocation. The model results indicated that FlexKerbs could effectively reduce vehicle delay and facilitate driverless operations while maintaining healthy streets for all users.

Download the report, FlexKerbs Roads for the Future for the full study.

For more information please contact Susan Claris, Fatema Karim-Khaku or Harrison Peck 

We can see for ourselves the progress in developing cars for the future, with trials of driverless cars taking place across the country – we now need to make sure the technology on our roads keeps up. The creativity and ingenuity of all the entries we received was very impressive, with many making the most of our existing network to prepare for these latest innovations. These five entries clearly stood out and I look forward to seeing how their ideas develop further over the coming months. ” Sir John Armitt Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission