Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been hailed as a panacea for everything from marketing and healthcare to finance and education but the technology is now being adopted to help improve the plight of the British motorist, in a new scheme being developed by Department for Transport.
As part of a wider £350 million fund to improve the quality of local roads, the department will hand £2 million to an AI start-up and a road safety group to advise councils on where best to plough their investment.
The DfT is to work with the Local Condition Roads Innovation Group and Yorkshire-based start-up Gaist to review almost 150 million high definition images of the UK’s roads.
With machine learning software, these images will be analysed to provide local councils with an assessment of where road markings could be improved or added.
Gaist managing director Paula Claytonsmith said: "We are using over 146 million HD road images from our national databank and cutting-edge AI technology to assess over 96,000 miles of classified roads as part of this project. This is the largest exercise in assessing road marking readiness ever undertaken in England."
Poor road markings can make it difficult for driver to judge whether it is safe to overtake, or where they can park, or even determining how wide a lane is, factors which represent a major safety risk, according to the DfT.
Meanwhile, the DfT is also seeking bids for a £348 million investment to improve local roads. The money will be split into two areas, first, £200 million will be available over the next two years for work to strengthening and repair road damage, such as potholes.
The remaining £150 million will go to technology projects designed to tackle traffic "pinch points". These are elements of road design which narrows carriageways to slow and calm traffic near areas with lots of pedestrians.