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Eric the highways robot saves workers & drivers hundreds of hours

Posted by: Melonie Debenham
15/01/2020
Industry News

Eric the highways robot saves workers & drivers hundreds of hours 

Eric the robot has continued to save time and money on some of the UK’s busiest roads. Eric uses precise positioning technology to mark out where white lines need to be painted on new or resurfaced roads.

We reported on Eric’s success when he launched with Highways England in May 2019:

“Eric is an autonomous line marker which reduces margin for human error and improves productivity, resulting in a reduction in the hours spent by vulnerable highway operatives working on the roads. 

“Eric is ideal for the task - easily transportable to site, weighing only 18kg and fitting in the boot of a car. It’s completely autonomous using GNSS for its navigation and can mark out centre lines, and car park bays, and via a USB can mark out other shapes such as arrows, lettering, hatching, numbers and even logos.” Read more.

Eric has continued to save time, money, and improve safety, on some Highways England’s largest projects, allowing roadworkers to focus on completing other essential work on each project.

Eric’s contributions include work on Britain’s biggest road upgrade, the £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement. It also recently pre-marked eight miles of the M6 in Staffordshire in four hours. This work would usually take two engineers over a week to complete.

RELATED: RECYCLED ASPHALT USED FOR HIGHWAYS SURFACING

Savings elsewhere include saving 27 hours of working time marking three miles of hard shoulder on the M4 in Berkshire, 77 hours covering five miles of the M6 in Warwickshire, and six hours working on two miles of the M1 in Leicestershire, with further work done on the M60 smart motorway at Manchester.

Julian Lamb, construction director on the A14, where the robot has been used, said: “We’re always looking at innovative new ways of working, which can help road users, and make our projects more efficient while supporting improved engineering. With safety our top priority, the time savings the robot can provide, coupled with removing our operatives from a potentially hazardous situation, make it a great solution.

“We’ve also been working with a self-driving dumper truck on the project, completing trials of these new technologies to help Highways England more deliver its ambitious programme of roads improvement quickly, safely and efficiently. These technologies are also supporting new jobs, with the engineers of tomorrow needing to learn new skills such as programming this autonomous equipment.”

RELATED: £100M ROAD SCHEMES APPROVED FOR IMMEDIATE START

Ordinarily, pre-marking road markings is a time-consuming job, calculating the positioning of the markings and walking several miles to spray or chalk them on the road. By using the robot, road workers spend far less time in the road and are at less risk of an accident - around 250 drivers illegally drive into roadworks every month, putting workers’ lives at risk. Bending down to pre-mark roads by hand can also raise the risk of back injuries. The robot also boasts improved accuracy and can mark the road faster.

By completing roadworks faster, the robot will help contribute to the goals of reducing congestion, improving journey times, and supporting economic growth, while cost savings can be used to provide more or better-quality road-building materials. Full story.

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