Cleaning graffiti of a bridge can cost highway authorities £10,000 a time so Highways England – now National Highways – launched a call for ideas, as a competition.
From more than a dozen entries, five have been picked, ranging from wall-climbing robots to acoustic sensors and laser technology.
The competition was run in tandem with construction contractor Kier and Connected
The five winning ideas from the competition are:
- Innovation Factory – audio sensors will detect the application of graffiti, trigger audio/visual deterrents and alert the authorities
- Sensing Feeling – Artificial intelligence software will analyse behaviour to detect vandals at graffiti hotspots and then deterrents such as alarms and lights can be activated
- HausBots – wall-climbing robots will apply a graffiti-proof coating
- Powerlase – lasers will remove graffiti from surfaces, preventing additional damage to the finish of surface coatings and films
- Nano Eco Group – a 3D chemical coating to prevent the adhesion of graffiti to a variety of surfaces and films.
Each of the winners get up to £30,000 (one of the winners only required £20,000) to develop their idea and produce a feasibility study for National Highways. The most promising products will then be taken forward for use on the road network.
Kier head of innovation Tom Tideswell said: “Tackling graffiti is an everyday labour-intensive occurrence for our maintenance teams and we are always on the look-out for innovative solutions to speed up the identification and reduce time on site removing graffiti.
“The variety of applications chosen to be taken forward can potentially increase removal productivity, reduce exposure to our workforce and reduce the need for traffic management which will improve journey reliability times for road users. I am looking forward to seeing how these potential solutions progress and enhance the variety of methods of prevention and removal of graffiti.”
National Highways head of innovation Annette Pass said: “The standard of entries was very high and difficult decisions had to be made to whittle them down to a final five. But we are confident that as we develop these ideas further we will be able to identify modern solutions to this age-old problem.”
The competition follows a recent trial of new solutions that took place over two days at an off-road site at Gravelly Hill Interchange – Spaghetti Junction – in Birmingham. Three graffiti-removal systems were tested and thee that prevent graffiti being applied in the first place.