Time-saving road marking robot makes it a happy new year for drivers


The quirky machine uses precise positioning technology to mark out where white lines need to be painted on new or resurfaced roads.


The robot has already saved hundreds of hours of working time on various Highways England projects across the country, including 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.


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.


Besides helping drivers, it also has safety benefits for roadworkers and enables them to focus on completing other essential work on each project.


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.”


Caption: the pre-marking WJ robot in use on Highways England’s £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade.


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.


The robot has been so successful, specialist contractor WJ, who adopted the technology for it to complete the pre-marking, has now invested in a second one to help complete more of its work. 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.



Wayne Johnston, WJ Group Managing Director, said:


“I am passionate about changing the way we work in this industry and the WJ Robotic PreMarker represents a real step change. However, it is just a starting point, we will continue to invest in research and development to find better, more efficient and safer ways of working.”


The 12-mile Huntingdon Southern Bypass, which makes up around two thirds of the A14 upgrade, opened a year early, in December. Work on the rest of the project, between Swavesey and Milton, continues and is on schedule to completed as planned by December 2020.


For the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, including advance notification of road closures, visit www.highways.gov.uk/A14C2H  follow @A14C2H on Twitter and like the scheme Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/.



Highways England is the government-owned company responsible for modernising, maintaining and operating England’s motorways and major A roads.

You can download pictures of the robot, and a video of it painting Happy New Year, here: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AoeN9MzdoO48nSb3qf63SwfuHnJv?e=jIff9z


The £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon project will upgrade 21 miles of the A14 to three lanes in each direction (four lanes between Bar Hill and Girton) adding additional capacity, boosting the local and national economy and cutting up to 20 minutes off journeys.


The project will include a major new bypass for Huntingdon, widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury, widening the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton and improving the junctions at Bar Hill, Swavesey, Girton, Histon and Milton. The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme will also include a local access road between Cambridge and Swavesey which will link into the old A14 all the way to Huntingdon. Improvements in Huntingdon town centre are also being delivered, including the demolition of the A14 viaduct and new link roads.


The new A14 will open to traffic by the end of 2020, although some finishing work such as the removal of the A14 viaduct in Huntingdon will continue beyond that.


The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme is being delivered on behalf of Highways England by a joint venture of UK contractors and design consultants: Balfour Beatty, Costain and Skanska and for design, Atkins and CH2M. The delivery team is known as the A14 Integrated Delivery Team.


To check the latest traffic information for the A14 and other roads, listen to traffic bulletins on local and national radio stations, visit http://www.trafficengland.com/ and follow Highways England on Twitter via @HighwaysEAST.


For the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, visit www.highways.gov.uk/A14C2H  follow @A14C2H on Twitter and like the scheme Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/.


Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available via its website ( www.trafficengland.com), local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile apps. Local Twitter services are also available at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/highways-england-about-us.

For further information please contact Highways England’s press office (24hrs) on 0844 693 1448 and select the most appropriate option below:

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