Transport for London (TfL) is adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and simulation technology to detect disruption on London Roads. The technology will be introduced to London’s road networks in the coming months.

In 2019, TfL launched, RoadLab, an innovation challenge which called on the UK’s innovators to develop technology that could make roadworks in the capital safer, smarter, and more accessible.

Nine innovators were chosen to go through to a ten-week programme, where their proposed technology was trialled and developed with the support of London’s major utility companies and London Councils. Finally, start-ups Samdesk and Immense were both awarded contracts to carry out projects and works.

Software from Immense can provide TfL and utilities staff with information on predicted congestion impacts, increases in emissions, and the safety impacts of planned roadworks. The company uses simulation technology that models roadworks to understand its impact on a road’s network before they take place. TfL says the results can be used to inform people in London about predicted impacts to their intended journey.

Samdesk software uses AI and real-time anonymised social media data to detect emerging disruptions. TfL staff can use this data to provide faster and more comprehensive insight into incidents unfolding across the transport network. It says it will be able to respond to incidents more quickly as a result.

Rikesh Shah, head of commercial innovation at Transport for London (TfL), said: “London's road network plays an absolutely vital role in keeping the capital moving and we’re always looking for innovative ways of making our streets safer, smarter and more sustainable.

“Our RoadLab programme has shown how the public and private sector can work together to create smart solutions to London’s transport problems.

"The technology developed by both Samdesk and Immense builds on the great results we achieved following the research and development work with during RoadLab.

“This delivered nine innovative solutions in ten weeks, an astounding effort for both the public and private sector which we hope to build on in future innovation challenges."

The programme was funded by TfL's Lane Rental scheme, which charges roadworks companies for digging up London’s busiest roads at times that cause the most disruption to people’s journeys.

TfL said the money is then invested in tackling congestion and minimising the impact of roadworks and has saved £100 million in lost travel time since the scheme started.