The Future of Roads and Highways

With technological innovations being announced almost every day when it comes to the “driving experience”, the one area where there has been very little change is on the roads themselves. Until now. 

From using roads to trap solar energy, to glowing paint and wind-powered street lights, cities around the world are slowly but surely pushing the envelope in road safety in an effort to make roads smarter and more energy efficient. 

One such notable project is the "Smart Highway" project, the brainchild of Studio Roosegaarde, a design lab based in the Netherlands. On a mission to make roads interactive and sustainable, they are in the process of testing a 300m stretch of road with glowing lane markers and weather-warning paint. 

Take a look at these five projects that clearly show the road ahead:

1.     Glow in the dark paint

With a goal of making smart roads that use light, energy and traffic information, glowing lines, painted with photo-luminescing paint, are charged during the day by the sun and glow at night for up to eight hours, to clearly demarcate the lanes. Aside from the safety benefits, the idea is far more sustainable, saving electricity and requiring far less budget than road lighting. Talking about paint, the same group has also developed thermo-dynamic paint that only appears when the temperature is below freezing, effectively warning motorists about possibly icy terrain.  

2.     Motion-sensor lights

  Lighting roads that don’t experience much traffic is a waste of electricity and money. Interactive, motion-sensor lights are able to sense when a car is approaching and light up only that section of the road; brightening as the car gets closer and will dimming as it passes. A good energy-conscious solution that’s perfect for the road less travelled.  

3.     Solar highways

  Solar panels on toughened glass roads embedded with LEDs and microprocessors will not only be able to harness solar energy, but will be able to melt snow during winter too. Add to that the fact that glass is a renewable, environmentally friendly material, and these roads are looking increasingly promising.  

4.     Wind-powered lights

Wind-powered lights harness the wind energy from passing cars, which spin a turbine on each light to generate the electricity they need to work. Carefully set along the car’s path at the roadside to harness as much wind draft as possible, these lights are then able to light the road as cars pass by.  

5.     Electric lanes

Electric vehicle users can charge their vehicles on the go simply by driving on the right lane. The Induction Priority Lane will have embedded magnetic fields that can charge the vehicle as it passes above, meaning that drivers wont have to worry about finding charging stations and will be effortlessly able to keep their cars charged, even on long journeys. In fact, according to this article, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has an induction-charged bus on its campus already. 

No longer simply a medium for travel, it’s obvious that the smart highway is closer than we realise. Now able to generate energy, charge cars, and provide light, roads are safer and more energy efficient than ever, but its up to the highway engineers of today to continue looking ahead and re-imagining what the roads of tomorrow. 

Roads of all scales are the critical pathways that drive our society’s connectivity. Their maintenance, preservation and replacement are all crucial factors to manage in order to keep both business and leisure moving efficiently and safely in our highly productive, “driven” world of today. Inspired to take the high road, AssetFinda gives you integrated, real-time diagnostic software to accurately manage and forecast the needs of all forms of road assets, from current condition analysis to asset maintenance and asset lifecycle scheduling and costing. Contact us today to find out more about our asset management software.


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