“Smart Highway” will charge electric cars

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

When I was a little girl, I thought it was weird that car companies made new models every single year! Don’t we have enough on the street as it is? Besides, the bigger they make their automobiles, the harder they are to drive down skinny lanes. Well, what if the problem isn’t with the cars on the street, but with the road itself? Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde thought we needed better roads, so he designed the Smart Highway as a possible solution.

“When we look at highways, why is so much money and time and energy spent on cars but the actual roads themselves are still stuck in the Middle Ages?” Roosegaarde asks. It’s kind of true. They have enough potholes to look like Swiss cheese! Plus, the paint that marks lanes is so faded, it’s hard to tell one lane from the other. If you think about the pale flickering street lights that cast eerie shadows, you’ve got yourself a picture that’s barely changed in years.

Well, the Smart Highway will definitely make driving at night look like a scene out of Tron. The intelligent road will be equipped with solar-charged digital lights that charge during the day. When the Sun goes down, the tiny bulbs will illuminate the lines on lanes and glow for about 10 hours before they need another charge. If there is a traffic accident ahead, the lights can signal alerts to approaching cars directly on the asphalt! In addition, the temperature-responsive street will warn drivers of the weather. For example, if the weather drops below zero degrees, the lights will make large blue snowflakes along the floor to inform drivers about sleek and slippery conditions.

The Smart Highway won’t only affect the lights on the street, though. Sensors inside the road will work with lamps lined up along the drive, which will only turn on as a car approaches. This insanely small feature will make the highway extremely energy efficient. Speaking of energy, the Smart Highway will also be embedded with magnetic fields to charge electric vehicles as they cruise along!

“These are all ideas which are not super high-tech, they are basic principles which we can implement to existing roads,” said Roosegaarde. The first Smart Highway prototype will appear later this year in the Netherlands, however, Roosegaarde predicts they’ll be all over the world in five short years.

Images and video courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde.