Smart highways: because it’s not just the car that needs to get smarter

We already knew smart grids, but highways also have a lot of potential for becoming more sustainable and safer. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and road construction firm Heijmans have developed a concept to start building ‘smart highways’.

They will use techniques such as foto-luminising powder to use the car’s beams to illuminate the road, but they also envision techniques for dynamically changing lanes into priority lanes for carpooling or EV’s, for roads that signal the weather conditions to drivers (like cold or wind).

Smart highways: glow-in-the-dark road:

smart highways

Glow in the dark road by Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans

The pathways of the Glow-in-the-dark roads are treated with a special foto-luminising powder making extra lighting unnecessary. The paint charges in the day light, the Glow-in-the-dark road illuminates the contours of the road at night for up to 10 hours.

Induction Priority Lane:

smart highways: induction priority lane

Induction priority lane: the road can adapt to different traffic conditions.

Dynamic Paint

Smart highways: a road that lets you know when there's danger of slipping

Smart highways: a road that lets you know when there’s danger of slipping

Dynamic paint is a technology that makes paint becomes visible in response to changes in temperature. This allows the driver to “read” the surface of roads. For example ice-crystals become visible on the surface of the road when it’s cold and slippery.

Smart highways from design table to the road

Smart highways: Daan Roosegaarde with the director of Heijmans

Smart highways: Daan Roosegaarde with the director of Heijmans

Studio Roosegaarde obviously wants to stress that these plans are not just nice drawings: the first meters of Dynamic Paint and Glow-in-the-dark Road will be realized next year. A few meters of prototype of  ‘Smart Highway’ are open  for the public during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde told auto blog PistonHeads that they developed the paint in response to the trend of local councils switching off street lights to save money.

“They were asking, how many more traffic injuries will there be because we turn off the lights? Essentially, how much is a person’s life worth?” said head of the technical department, Peter De Man. “We as artists don’t agree with that, so we wanted to do something positive.”

Dutch roadbuilder Heijmans Infrastructure is now testing the paint to make sure it actually stays glowing for the length of a northern European night and doesn’t rub off. “It needs to last five to 10 years,” said De Man. He says, yes, it’ll cost more, but then if councils are making substantial savings on the light switch-off then they won’t mind paying over the odds for the safety of glowing road markings, or so the theory goes.

via Glow-in-the-dark roads coming – PistonHeads.

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).