Dutch light up with greener roads

Sustainable roads that illuminate during the night and recharge during the day are set to hit Europe's highways in 2013, according to Dutch designers.

Prototypes of the ‘Smart Highway’, which aim to be more sustainable, safe and intuitive, were presented this week at the Dutch Design Awards by design firms Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure.

The goal is to make roads more sustainable and interactive by using interactive lights, smart energy and road signs that adapt to specific traffic situations.

Other ideas, such as lanes which allow drivers of electric cars to recharge their vehicles as they drive, will be realised within the next five years according to the two firms.

The first prototypes, Glow-in-the-dark Road and Dynamic Paint, are treated with a special foto-luminising powder eliminating the need for extra road lighting.

Charged in day light, the Glow-in-the-dark Road illuminates the contours of the road at night by up to 10 hours, while 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, ice-crystals become visible on the surface of the road when it is cold and slippery.

Speaking to edie, Daan Roosegaarde, said: “I think the future of roads is important because when we look at cities, and almost everyone lives in cities, they are more determined by roads than architecture and buildings – so roads are super important in the way they look and behave.

“I was amazed that roads were left out of [the smart cities] conversation despite the fact we spend billions on them in terms of money and time”.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie