by Nathan Goodman/Staff Writer
Last year, the first prototypes for the smart highway was presented in Europe. The designer, Daan Roosegaarde, presented the examples at the Dutch Design Week. The highway is designed to be safer and smarter for drivers.
The highways will feature a number of innovations, including luminescent and dynamic paint on the road. This characteristic will not only help drivers follow the road during the evenings and nights but will also allow the road to convey conditions to the drivers. A special type of paint will show different symbols and is activated by temperature. For example, when the temperature drops below freezing, painted snowflakes will appear on the road alerting drivers to the travel conditions. Another feature of this high tech highway is an extra lane that accommodates for electric vehicles. This lane not only allows high speed travel for smart cars but can also charge them. The idea behind this innovation is that roads should be able to communicate with the drivers. Some other adaptations that will be featured on these smart roads is that the highway itself will be able to generate electricity to power lights and road signs will be able to adapt to current traffic. Between the glowing paint and the energy efficient lighting, there will be less need for auxiliary lighting on vehicles. This new highway has prototypes already running in the Netherlands and was awarded the Best Future Concept by the Dutch Design Awards in 2012.
The highways are designed to be both sustainable and affordable so that developed and developing countries integrate these advances into their roads. The smart highway can also be broken down and each attribute gradually applied to current roads, making the transition from old, unintelligent roads to the future an easy one. The future of the modern highway will quickly be changing for the better.