I'm sure many of my readers have endured, like me, many miles of driving along a highway reduced to one lane width - or even less - by traffic cones, deployed to keep highway workers safe. Unfortunately, they may be working in only one spot, but several miles of road on either side of that place may be coned off, to allow them to move up and down the road. There's no other way to do it - or, at least, there hasn't been, until now.
Wheeled ‘Robo-cones’ that trundle off when no longer required to shorten roadworks for motorists have been invented by British engineers.
A new prototype road cone has been designed by construction firm Costain , which can travel at 4mph and move itself off the motorway when repairs are completed.
Currently drivers are forced to put up with long stretches of coned-off areas because it so hazardous to drop off and collect cones. Instead, companies cordon off large stretches at once for safety, rather than continually removing and replacing them.
. . .
Inventor and engineer William Clifford of Costain said robotic cones could allow ‘smaller roadworks’.
He said: “You cone off much more than you need. You see it when you drive past for miles, the workers have done the work.”
Richard Golledge, a senior software engineer who helped design the device, said the Robo-cones were also far more easier to manoeuvre than the current versions, taking ‘just a minute’ to move into position.
“They are not autonomous,” he said. “It’ll be defined by someone who says where they want the cones.
“To have them completely autonomous and come out on the motorway and detect when there’s an accident, that would be perfect, although we are far from that.”
There's more at the link.
Now that's a useful idea! Only trouble is, I can see students figuring out how to "hack" them. They'll "cone-nap" them, chop off the top, and put a flat table surface on them; then they'll use them as robotic drink carts in their living rooms or dormitories, controlled from their smartphones!