So much time and money has been invested in our current crop of high tech vehicles and yet we still drive on the same old roads, some type of concrete or asphalt providing a hard surface, though often little else. Studio Roosegaarde of the Netherlands is about to introduce smart highways in their country beginning in 2013. They came up with a number of ideas, each of which could make for a more pleasant and possibly, much safer driving experience.
They have introduced such features as glow in the dark paint like the luminescent watch faces that charge themselves during daylight and glow when it gets dark making highway markings much easier to see. There’s a temperature sensitive paint that makes large snowflake patterns appear on the roadway to warn of icing conditions. Dynamic lines can change from a dotted line to a solid line as needed. Motion activated lighting provides a constantly traveling light in front of a vehicle to illuminate the road beyond and in a wider pattern than provided by headlights so constant lighting in the absence of traffic is less necessary. There’s even wind powered lighting, possibly more decorative than functional, but as a warning of crosswinds could double as a safety feature.
One development has been suggested by many in recent years and that is an inductively charged electric car priority lane that charges vehicles as they drive over it, decreasing the need to stop frequently for a recharge.
All of these innovations are useful and make a lot of sense, and in a country the size of the Netherlands, may be feasible, however, in a country the size of the USA, where maintaining the current infrastructure is a challenge, these high tech highways may have to wait a while. It will be interesting to see how well they work and how they are received by drivers. Installation in the Netherlands provides a great testbed to see which of these technologies provide the most benefit for the cost and may enable some of these to be deployed in other countries around the world.