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National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing

Interdisciplinary Centre for infrastructure sensors and instrumentation


A new and collaborative initiative, Digital Roads of the Future, will explore how digital twins, smart materials, data science and robotic monitoring can work together to develop a connected physical and digital road infrastructure system.

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge, Costain, and National Highways, Digital Roads of the Future is led by three Principal Investigators: Professor Ioannis Brilakis, Laing O’Rourke Professor of Construction Engineering, Director of the Construction Information Technology Laboratory and CSIC Investigator; Phillip Proctor, Head of Research at National Highways, and a member of the CSIC Steering Group; and Tim EmbleyGroup Innovation & Research Director at Costain, Chair of i3P Net Zero Carbon Working Group and a member of the CSIC Steering Group. The Future Roads initiative – which is being developed alongside UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the EU MSCA COFUND programme totalling £14.5m – aims to deliver resilient roads that can measure and monitor their own performance over time, making roads safer and greener. 

“We aim to enable a more sustainable future of transport through this initiative. Given the advances in data, robotics and material sciences, we aim to make roads a lot ‘smarter’ and serve multiple functions,” said Professor Brilakis. “Our research ambition is to unlock this potential by challenging our research team to rethink roads as an integrated set of digital and physical products and processes that offer value-adding efficiencies to stakeholders, improve whole life performance and can scale across the whole road network.”

The initiative will involve more than 50 researchers at the University of Cambridge who will work collaboratively with industry. Within this initiative, the Future Roads Fellowship Programme offers 27 fellowships and posts are currently advertised at Future Roads will explore five research themes: Digital Twins led by Professor Brilakis – setting the foundations for road life-cycle management; Smart Materials led by Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa – aware of their state and properties as well as assisting  maintainers and users; Data Science led by Professors Mark Girolami and Sumeetpal Singh – focussing on data-driven insight to inform design, construction, maintenance and operations; Automation and Robotics led by Professor Fumiya Iida– supporting pro-active interventions and enabling automated routine maintenance. Each of these themes is underpinned by a commitment to Sustainability of human and natural resources, carbon, ecosystems, hazards and life-cycle impacts, a theme led by Dr Kristen MacAskill.

For more details about Digital Roads of the Future see