Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Smart highways

I feel like I might have posted about these things before, but given my past blog posts on the topic, I figured it was worth sharing either way. Via Barry Ritholtz comes a quick summary of these so-called "smart" highways, which are scheduled to debut in the Netherlands later this year. Pretty cool stuff.

From their own fact sheet (with some funky translations):
Smart Highway are interactive and sustainable roads of today. Designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure are developing new designs and technologies for this Route 66 of the future. 
New designs include the ‘Glow-in-the-Dark Road’, ‘Dynamic Paint’, ‘Interactive Light’, ‘Induction Priority Lane’ and ‘Wind Light’. The goal is to make roads which are more sustainable and interactive by using light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to the traffic situation. 
Awarded with a Best Future Concept by the Dutch Design Awards 2012 the first meters Smart Highway will be realized mid 2013 in the Netherlands. 
The "Dynamic Paint" design, for example, puts designs on the road that will change based on temperature and general road conditions, to better inform drivers of what to expect. And the "Induction Priority Lane" has induction coils underneath the surface, which can allow electric cars to recharge their batteries as they drive on them.

Here's a short video showing what these guys are doing, and what's possible.

Futuristic highways glow in the dark by Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans from Daan Roosegaarde on Vimeo.

While this still seems like pretty crude and early-stage technology, I think it's a good step toward being more creative with how we think about our roads and their functions. The days of having a piezoelectric national highway system that powers the cars that drive on it may not be so far away, after all.

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