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Roads of the future

Roads in the future could no longer just be a medium to travel one place to another. By replacing standard asphalt roads with advanced solar panels to store solar energy from the sun, it could generate clean and renewable power.

The Solar Roadways project is the brainchild of Scott and Julie Brusaw from Sagle, Idaho. The project, which was in research and development stage, more than doubled its original crowdfunding goal of US$1million through site Indiegogo, raising over US$2.1 million from more than 47,000 supporters to take it to the next phase of development.

This shows there’s strong popular appeal for this kind of new high-tech road technologies. Solar Roadways are comprised of rugged hexagonal glass plates in which are embedded solar cells, electronics, and LEDs. The panels contain LED lighting, heating elements to melt snow, inductive charging capability for electric vehicles while driving, and even some storm water management abilities.

The Smart Highway, by Studio Roosegaarde and civil engineering firm Heijmans, scored the Best Future Concept Dutch Design Awards in 2012. The idea of “glow in the dark road markings” are made of using paint that contains photo-luminising powder that charges up during the day and glow for up to 8 hours every night. Another idea is “motion-sensor lights”, which is perfect for highways that are less-travelled. Motion sensors will light up only the section a car is approaching. The light will grow brighter as the car comes closer and will slowly dim away as it passes.

“Electric Priority Lane” has embedded magnetic fields where electric vehicles user can charge up their vehicle just by driving on the right lane. “Wind-Powered Lights” works by harnessing wind draft from passing cars to generate electricity using pinwheels to light up. (FLORO MERCENE)