News

Arup shortlisted in competition to make streets fit for driverless cars

Sarah White headshot Sarah White Marketing Manager
23 May 2018

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

The entry – called 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. Driven by real-time data and local policy, FlexKerbs will intelligently adjust permitted kerbside uses throughout the day and week to ensure that space both meets demand and achieves local transport goals. Over the course of a day, for instance, a single FlexKerb segment could function as a cycle path at rush hour, 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. The five teams will now receive up to £30,000 each to test their ideas, with a £50,000 prize available for the overall winner to be announced this autumn.

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 team now have three months to develop a feasibility study to demonstrate how it could benefit cities once CAVs have been introduced to our streets, using the funding to simulate the scheme on a typical London high street. Specifically, they will design an illustrative FlexKerb schedule for one weekday and one weekend day to show how flexible use of a busy street’s kerbside can 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 teams from across Arup, the team will test strategies for simulating CAV behaviours with traffic modelling software.

Cartoon graphic of busy city street Cartoon graphic of busy city street
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 now have three months to develop a FlexKerbs feasibility study to demonstrate how the scheme could benefit cities once CAVs have been introduced to our streets.

Launched in January with Highways England and Innovate UK, Roads for the Future sought ideas for preparing the UK’s road network for the growth of CAVs.

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