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UK: Shape-changing passenger wayfinding technology and self-deploying flood barriers are among the 51 projects awarded a share of £1·95m of Department for Transport funding under the Transport Research & Innovation Grant programme.

TRIG is run by the Department for Transport and Connected Places Catapult to bring together start-ups, SMEs, universities and policymakers at the earliest stage of innovation.

‘TRIG is a one-of-a-kind programme’, said Rachel Gardner-Poole, Chief Operating Officer at Connected Places Catapult. ‘It provides a mechanism to identify and support early-stage innovation that might slip through the nets of traditional funding routes.’

Makesense Technology is to establish the feasibility of using a proprietary shape-changing haptic navigation technology to guide visually impaired people through public transport networks. A handheld device will scan the area and provide touch feedback, such as a vibration to the tablet holder, alerting the user to any obstacles and their direction of travel.

Digital Signs For Transport aims to make real time train information available at remote stations in Wales.

Signalbox Technologies will develop technology to automatically determine a caller’s train anywhere in Great Britain, enabling faster and more informed responses.

Nerds with Words proposes to build an agile neural network trained on rail and aviation data and to minimise bias.

RazorSecure will demonstrate technology for secure maintenance operations capable of integration with legacy and new railway vehicles.

The University of Surrey’s Indirect Inspection of Railway Bridges using Train-borne Monitoring System project aims to produce bridges damage detection system using an instrumented train travelling at operational speeds.

AJEA Products will design self-deploying barriers that can be installed at stations and will pop-up automatically when floods are detected, preventing journeys from being disrupted by extreme weather.

A University of Strathclyde project aims to develop a tool for early warning and real time scour risk assessment of bridges.

3Squared aims to identify additional freight capacity and facilitates ‘last minute’ freight bookings.

Fishbone and MoniRail will work on a wagon condition monitoring trial.

Cyth is to develop a mechanical energy-harvesting module using wagon vibrations.

More exotically, Mole Solutions is to develop a control module for an ‘Underground Freight Transport system’, an ’emerging innovative concept using the subsurface to mode shift freight from road-based HGV to electrically powered capsules travelling autonomously on rail tracks in low-cost tunnels’.

DfT will also be working with Connected Places Catapult to pilot an Innovation Accelerator Programme, which will support companies at a later stage in the innovation process by funding bespoke training from industry specialists.