AR app to help blind passengers navigate stations receives share of £2m funding

An augmented-reality app for visually impaired passengers to help them navigate stations is among a raft of transport technology projects being backed by government funding.

The Department for Transport has announced a £1.96m fund to improve accessibility in the UK’s transport systems.

Makesense Technology is receiving part of the fund to create an app that uses augmented reality to create bespoke walking routes to help visually impaired travellers get around railway stations.

Other projects include a system that uses large kites to tow ships at the same speed as a traditionally powered craft, which could help reduce the use of polluting engines and decarbonise shipping.

Start-up IONA Logistics will explore how autonomous drones based out of small delivery hubs can be used to deliver small packages faster and cheaper to hard-to-reach rural areas

Port of Tyne is exploring the viability of using remotely controlled, and in some instances automated, electric heavy-duty robots to replace HGVs to provide a cleaner and faster alternative, reducing delays in the delivery process.

While CC Informatics will explore the use of drones to create 3D digital models of structures, such as bridges and rail tracks, to identify cracks and defects in the structures that would otherwise be invisible, meaning repairs can be made quicker and before more serious issues could develop.

Over 60 projects in total are being awarded funding, 80 per cent of which are based outside of London.

Transport and decarbonisation minister Jesse Norman said: “From making travelling easier for visually impaired passengers to improving rural connectivity, these winning projects have the potential to transform the future of transport.

“The government wants the UK to be a world leader in the future of transport and, through the TRIG programme, the Department for Transport is supporting innovators and businesses to decarbonise and improve transport while growing the economy and supporting jobs across the UK.”

Nicola Yates OBE, Connected Places Catapult CEO, said: “By getting funding into innovative start-ups, we are creating jobs of the future and growing vital areas of the economy.”

A report from March found that rural businesses are struggling to contend with unreliable public transport and local skills shortages.

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