OMG wins major road surveying contract

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The Independent Online

OMG, the company behind 3D animation technology used in films such as The Golden Compass, has won a significant contract with the Highways Agency to digitally map the road system in the North-west of England.

It is the first full network survey that the company has won and follows a series of trials with local Highways Agency departments. The company's Yotta division develops high resolution, detailed 3D images of roads and related infrastructure such as traffic lights and street signs by deploying a fleet of vans to drive around and take digital images of the streets. Yotta acquired its rival DCL this year for £5m to boost its capacity and scale.

The highway services company A-one+ has contracted Yotta DCL to map 2,600 kilometres within Highways Agency Area 10, which covers Greater Manchester, Merseyside, parts of southern Lancashire and Cheshire. The company will provide high-resolution, 360 degree photography for precision mapping of the roads, which includes signage, road markings, lamp posts and safety barriers. The data can then be used to more effectively budget for highway maintenance services, as traditional manual methods of mapping roads fails to account for around 15 per cent of the road's features. The data can also be used to identify potholes in the road, meaning local councils can move faster to address safety issues.

Nick Bolton, the chief executive of OMG, said he was "delighted with this strategically important contract" and that the deal was an excellent endorsement of its technology.

With one regional contract in the bag, analysts expect the company to pick up more road-mapping contracts in other parts of the country. OMG or Oxford Metrics Group developed its 3D imaging technology to monitor the movement of cerebral palsy sufferers. However, the system is now used for other purposes, including monitoring cricketers' bowling actions and capturing the movement of actors for use in animated films and computer games. The road-mapping software is one of the company's key growth areas along with its Vicon technology that is built into unmanned aerial vehicles to map terrain for the MoD.