During the dark days and long nights of winter road safety can be a problem. Traditional signs can be hard to see. Temperatures can suddenly nosedive, without drivers being aware. Black ice which is invisible to the naked eye is the cause of many car crashes in cold weather. As temperatures dip roads can become death traps.
In the Netherlands change is underway. By mid-2013 a glow-in-the-dark smart-road design, which varies with temperature, will be operational. Studio Roosegaarde, a Dutch design firm, have been working with infrastructure management group Heijmans, to make glow-in-the-dark roads.
The result is a photo-luminescent powder that will glow in the dark. This is to be used on roads in the Netherlands, replacing traditional paints. The effect is that it gives roads an almost psychedelic look at night and lights up the area.
"Glow in the dark" roads were approved in the Netherlands, in 2012. Now we can see the effect and how it will work.
The photo luminescent powder will be used for road markings. This powder will gather energy from the Sun during the day. Even with a limited amount of sunshine, in winter, there will be enough to provide 10 hours of light at night. Clever? That is not all. When road temperatures dip, to below a certain temperature, glow-in-the-dark snowflakes will warn drivers to take care.
According to the Telegraph the 'Smart Highway' technology can reduce or remove the need for street lightning. The design photos show that the photo-luminescent powder could be used on all road markings.
'The pathways of the glow-in-the-dark roads are treated with a special photo-luminizing powder, making extra lighting unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark road is said to illuminate the contours of the road at night up for up to 10 hours. Dynamic Paint, paint that becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations, enables the surface of roads to communicate relevant and adequate traffic information directly to drivers'. For example, Studio Roosegaarde says, ice-crystals become visible on the surface of the road when it’s cold and slippery.
The designers however look set to expand this technology. The Telegraph report continues,
'Other ideas from the designers include road lights that illuminate only when vehicles approach, in order to save energy when there is no traffic, as well as road lights powered by wind generated by passing cars, and "induction priority lanes" to charge electric cars as they pass over coils under the Tarmac.'
Other possibilities include heated cycle tracks. Could this technology solve some of our environmental issues?