Highway authorities harness drone technology for traffic monitoring in Walsall
A groundbreaking initiative employing a drone to monitor traffic congestion in Walsall is currently underway as transport officials trial aerial technology to gain real-time insights into traffic flow. During a two-week trial period, a drone, remotely launched and stationed atop Walsall Bus Station, takes flight over the town multiple times daily. This airborne endeavour captures live imagery of pivotal intersections and commuter pathways, which is then relayed to the Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC) in real-time.
Councillor Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio lead for transport and leader of Walsall Council, said: “I know traffic congestion can be both frustrating and damaging to our air quality and environment so this trial is welcome – more so because it is taking place in Walsall. If it proves a real help to our traffic managers, giving them access to the latest information and keeping the town centre moving I would be happy to see this drone technology become a more permanent fixture in future.”
The trial’s triumph and utility to traffic managers may potentially lead to the drone’s permanent integration in Walsall’s transport management framework. Conceived by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), this endeavour is undertaken in collaboration with drone technology experts, Skybound Rescuer.
Marking a pioneering endeavour, this trial marks the first instance of such a drone being utilised within a densely populated urban environment.
Kerry Blakeman, head of transport safety with TfWM, commented: “This trial of an automated drone, launched from the top of our bus station is the next step. Our control room now has access to even better information and images to improve the quality of advice and information and keep the region moving.”
In addition to its transport management applications, drone technology could lend support to emergency services by capturing police incidents on camera. The drone’s flight path is automatically generated through SkyBound Rescuer’s advanced algorithms for optimised drone flights. The subsequent flight is then autonomously executed, monitored by a certified remote pilot stationed within SkyBound’s control room in Southampton. To comply with prevailing regulations, the drone maintains visual line of sight with an on-site remote safety pilot throughout the trial.
Gemma Allcock, CEO of Skybound Rescuer, concluded: “SkyBound Rescuer focus solely on drone use cases that can improve society, so we’re looking forward to using drone technology to benefit the Walsall community by enhancing the estate of fixed CCTV cameras.”