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How Connect Plus and Osborne digitally mapped the UK’s busiest motorway, avoiding road closures and disruption to the public

Aerial image taken from Sensat's drones of the M25

The project

Connect Plus, the company awarded the contract to operate and manage the M25 and its key arterial routes on behalf of Highways England, worked with partners Connect Plus Services (CPS), Osborne and Sensat to digitally map the road network. From this, a single source of data has been built which all M25 suppliers can access within one visualisation platform, creating a ‘digital 3D M25’.

Hailed as the largest drone mapping endeavour in the UK, the project
covers 120 miles of highway, consists of over 23 billion data points and 85,000 high-resolution images, captured and delivered in 30 days.

The solution

Fixed-wing drones were used to remotely capture topographic data safely and efficiently, producing highly-accurate, geo-referenced 2D and 3D outputs. With permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly drones within built-up areas, combined with EVLOS (extended visual line of sight) exemption, Sensat were able to eliminate the need for traffic management and lane closures across the M25.

Aggregated in Sensat’s visualisation platform, the processed 3D point cloud and 2D orthomosaic data will be used to create the first digital twin of the M25. Today, a virtual 3D model has been shared with Connect Plus, Connect Plus Services and its framework contractors, acting as a key source of information of the entire motorway. Visualising data in this way will support the team in planning and decision-making processes across renewal and maintenance projects.

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