The first section of ‘smart’ motorway has opened in the Netherlands, with solar-powered lines which charge during the day and create a glowing road layout reminiscent of the film ‘Tron’ at night.
Designer Daan Roosegaarde produced the Smart Highway on a section of the N329 road outside the city of Oss using a special photo-luminescent paint - but this is just the first stage.
He plans to follow it up with sections of road that light up with glowing snowflakes to warn drivers when it’s icy, and special powered electric lane which charges electric cars as they drive along.
Roosegaard also aims to investigate using the glowing road lines to direct traffic with a future version where the lines can switch to dotted lines - a cheap alternative to using road signs.
The N329 works using photo-luminescent paint which absorbs light during daylight hours, then radiates it back out during the night.
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Maker Roosegaarde describes it as looking like ‘a fairy tale’ and says that the glowing road improves visibility and safety.
He now plans to roll out the technology worldwide - after making a similarly glowing cycle track inspired by Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night.
Roosegaarde aims to explore further ideas in partnership with construction company Hejmans - with a view to creating futuristic, environmentally friendly roads powered by the cars that drive on them.
Ideas under test include glowing paint on the road surface which lights up to warn drivers of icy road conditions, and traffic lights which only light up when traffic is passing, thus saving money and power when cars aren’t around.
The designer also aims to investigate new ways of charging such ‘Smart Highway’ devices to generate more power than the sun provides.
One idea uses tiny windmills to power roadside lights.
Roosegaarde describes how the ‘Smart Wimdmills’ might work’: ‘The wind generated by passing cars activate small windmills along the road. The windmills generate energy, which is used to light up the lamps in the windmills.’