Smart Highways: Roads That Glow In The Dark

smart highways

Two Dutch companies have collaborated to produce an innovative concept, which they hope could revolutionise road design.

Studio Roosegaarde, a self-proclaimed ‘international design laboratory for interactive projects’, and infrastructure firm Heijmans have developed a smart highway concept that is interactive, sustainable and – they say – safer. It also glows in the dark.

Instead of focusing on the car to innovate the driving experience, the companies are reinventing the highway. Their aim is to make roads that automatically adapt to the traffic situation by using light, smart paints, energy harvesting, sensors and other media.

Designer Daan Roosegaarde got the idea for the paint after noticing that when it comes to transportation, everything has been improved except the roads themselves.  

smart highways

The pathways of the Glow-in-the-dark roads are treated with a special foto-luminising powder that makes extra lighting unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark road illuminates the contours of the road at night for up to 10 hours.

Dynamic paint becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations. Used on all road markings, from lane indicators to emergency shoulders, it will enable the surface of roads to communicate relevant and adequate traffic information directly to drivers. For example, ice crystals become visible on the surface of the road when the weather is cold and roads are slippery.

Although dynamic paint and glow-in-the-dark roads will only officially be realised next year, the public has had a chance to see the first pieces of the ‘Smart Highway’ during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

smart highways

The idea was the winner of the ‘Best Future Concept’ at the country’s annual design awards. The idea has also attracted interest from India and the United States.

Other projects Studio Roosegaarde has been involved with include ‘Sustainable Dance Floor’, an interactive dance floor which generates electricity through the act of dancing via smart technologies, and ‘Sensor Valley’, Europe’s largest interactive artwork of light and sound in the city of Dutch city of Assen.

By Justin McGar
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