skip to content

Digital Roads of the Future


Engineers have a history of collecting data from the physical infrastructure, using it to design alternative interventions to engineering problems, and applying the theoretically best intervention back to the infrastructure since the advent of engineering drawings. This loop is still true to this day. However, our ability to collect data, model it, and apply interventions has grown exponentially and become increasingly automated. Technological advances have reached the maturity and potential to (a) capture physical infrastructure (i.e. physical twin) data and transmit it to the asset’s digital copy, i.e., its digital twin; (b) structure, generate, update, curate and communicate with the digital twin; and (c) leverage the digital twin to monitor asset performance and plan interventions that are more sophisticated than ever before.


We aim to enable Digital Twins as a resilient data backbone for highway infrastructure through the Digital Roads of the Future initiative. The key considerations underpinning our thinking are:

Understanding what exactly is a Digital Twin in this context and how should it be designed. At a fundamental level, we need to derive (i) proof-of-concept data structures and cloud architectures able to support highway product data built with smart materials, and to enable data science, robotic monitoring and federation across multiple cloud tenants.

Understanding how should a Digital Twin be constructed, maintained and operated. We need methods to generate and update the Digital Twins from pre-existing, field-captured and smart materials-provided data. We also need to devise a strategy for static and dynamic information curation to enable productisation and facilitate information security and future-proofing.

Understanding how to maximise value gain from Digital Twins for human operators and machines alike. We need to design and implement machine-information and human-information interfaces to support data science and automation processes.

The Digital Twins theme acts as the main reference point for all other themes of this initiative and the foundation for an initiative-wide platform and interfaces needed to bring the initiative’s outcomes to market. It is a core business advantage for the initiative’s industry partners, and its outcomes will be designed to be extensible to other asset types. It will also help develop industry partners gain an understanding on the purpose and scope of future uses of a digital twin.

Digital Roads Annual Review 2023 & research update

On 8 September 2023, Digital Roads held their first annual review. You can watch the research update here.  A research poster was created to illustrate the work carried out by the Digital Twins team in the first year. 

Also relevant to the Digital Roads development is work undertaken in our uniting theme of Delivering Impact. The Delivering Impact research poster can be seen here.