The idea of a “smart highway” has been around for decades, but this concept, which was created jointly by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and the construction firm Heijmans takes highway infrastructure to a whole different level.
“(Until) now the focus of innovation was on the car,” Heijmans explains on its web page. “Heijmans and Studio Roosegaarde tackle this issue on a large scale by innovating the road deck with designs such as Glow-in-the-dark Lining, Dynamic Paint, Interactive Light and Electric Priority Lane.”
Lane markers that are made of a luminescent paint that “store” light are the first feature to be implemented on Dutch roads later this year. Line markers absorb the light during the day and glow at night so drivers can see the edge of the lane, even in rainy or foggy weather.
According to the team’s press release, “The pathways of the Glow-in-the-dark roads are treated with a special (luminescing) powder, making extra lighting unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the Glow-in-the-dark road illuminates the contours of the road at night up to 10 hours.”
The team has also developed a paint that is reactive to temperature changes, which it calls dynamic paint. When the ambient air temperature drops below freezing, designs on the road, such as ice crystals or snow flakes, will become evident to drivers, alerting them to the fact that the road may be slippery or icy.
The first stage of the project will be implemented on country roads in the province of North Brabant, in the southern part of The Netherlands. The priority induction lane, and wind advisory signs that switch on in windy conditions are expected to be in place by 2018.
“The goal is to make roads which are more sustainable and interactive by using light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to the traffic situation,” Roosegaarde explained on his website.
Roosegaarde’s and Heijmans’ concept was recognized as the Best Future Concept at the Dutch Design Awards in 2012. It’s also garnered commercial interest from around the world.
As an artist and designer, Roosegaarde is known for his interactive light displays such as Dune, which the artist describes on his website as a “public interactive landscape that interacts with human behavior,” and which consists of fiber optic lights that brighten and glow when exposed to sound and movement of people.
One version of the Dune installment is located alongside a walking path skirts the Maas River in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and consists of thousands of fiber optic lights that brighten and glow when exposed to the movement of people walking along the path. Like many of his displays, Dune is designed to be sustainable and use minimal electricity.
More information on the Smart Highway concept can be found below, and at the Smart Highway stories section of Roosegaarde’s website.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.