Drone trial takes flight for traffic management in Walsall, UK
TfWM’s trial in Walsall, West Midlands, sees a remotely launched drone providing transport managers with real-time traffic updates, potentially revolutionising traffic management and optimising traffic flow in the town centre.
Credit: West Midlands Combined Authority
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has announced that Walsall Bus Station in the West Midlands has implemented a trial using a remotely launched drone to assist transport managers in monitoring traffic and congestion. The drone, operated by Skybound Rescuer, flies over the town multiple times a day, capturing live images of key junctions and commuter routes. These images are then transmitted to the Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC) managed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).
The RTCC, in partnership with local authorities, emergency services and transport operators, oversees the region’s road and transport network during major incidents and events, with access to over 2,500 CCTV feeds covering major roads and public transport.
The drone’s deployment in an urban area marks the first of its kind, allowing transport managers to receive real-time updates on bus and car movements in Walsall town centre. This up-to-date information can be shared with partners and the public through social media, enabling better decision-making and providing timely updates on traffic conditions. In addition, the drone could be beneficial in supporting emergency services by capturing police incidents on camera.
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.”
Kerry Blakeman, Head of Transport Safety at TfWM, said: “Earlier this year we launched a drone team to allow us to fill in the many gaps in the region’s fixed CCTV network. We have already used them to good effect to give people early warning of traffic jams as they build up and guide diversions. 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.”
TfWM’s CCTV control room undergoes annual independent assessments to ensure compliance with the Surveillance Commissioners Code of Practice and British Standard 7958.
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