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The future of intelligent street lighting can be seen more clearly now, thanks to a five-month trial by National Highways. The project, Illuminate, which was conducted by the government-owned company in 2021, employed new technology that can communicate road data back to the relevant offices.

Future developments could involve adding CCTV and wireless technology to the UK’s street lights. This would provide information on speed limits, diversions and traffic alerts, enabling more efficient journey planning.

The trial was part of National Highways’ aim to incorporate technology that can communicate messages more effectively across the network, supporting a wider autonomous vehicle infrastructure. 

In addition to these benefits, the project saw more environmentally-friendly LEDs replace the previous lighting. As well as being greener for the planet, the new bulbs are designed to disperse clearer light.

Lisa Maric, innovations lead for the Midlands at National Highways, said: “These are exciting times as we progress on our ‘digital roads’ journey with the growth of digital technology and the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles that will fundamentally change how we use roads in the future.

“National Highways is committed to ensuring we are at the forefront of this digital revolution and are preparing the way for the greener and safer roads of tomorrow.

“Initial trials such as Illuminate will help us identify new innovations, technology and methods to meet our digital goals. We were pleased with how Illuminate performed as a proof of concept and the useful knowledge gained as we continue to plan for the roads of the future.”

Recent technological advancements have allowed this progression in street lighting. The increased bandwidth of 5G internet supports the transfer of more information, while the internet of things (IoT) is set to play an important role in the future of autonomous vehicles.

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