Traffic cones are traditionally placed down by a team of two working from the back of a vehicle.
Two workers will both handle between 5-6 tonnes per shift in cones alone.
The back-breaking work is often done at night and the Highways England video below shows conditions operative have to endure.
The automated cone laying machines are currently being tested and could be in use by the end of this year.
Highways England is working with Kier, HW Martin Traffic Management, Highway Care and King Highway Products on the trials.
Highways England Group Leader Martin Bolt said: “Safety is always the priority for Highways England and we are constantly looking for ways to ensure everyone who works and travels on our road network is protected.
“By taking out the human element in the laborious task of putting out cones, we will be taking out an element of potential risk.
“As well as taking away this physical labour, these automated machines could also save valuable person hours and allow us to redeploy the workforce to other traffic management duties.”