The glow-in-the-dark highway recently featured on Wired.com and other tech news sites is a concept technology developed by Dutch artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde is the owner of a design studio, aptly named Roosegaarde Studio, and is making waves in the art and technology world for his unusual viewpoint of transportation technology. Whereas most transportation tech development has focused on the vehicle (self-driving cars, self-parking cars, etc), Roosegaarde wants to disrupt it from the perspective of the road.
According to reports, a 500 m stretch of a road in the Netherlands has been outfitted with a stretch of glow-in-the-dark tech that delineates the outer edges of the road very clearly. Highway workers mixed his glow-in-the-dark paint and standard road paint to create these lines. At the moment there are no concrete plans to extend the project to other roads and cities. But glowing road surface markings are only a small part of the smart highway in Roosegaarde’s vision. In his vision, environmental factors such as weather, temperature, wind, would elicit a reaction from the road. Surface markings are also controllable, switching from continuous to dotted lines depending on traffic. Lighting turns itself on when cars are near but switches off again when they leave the area to save electricity. And inductive power transfer in the breakdown lane would ensure an electric car remains charged. In short, a road that is aware of the surroundings and its travelers, and responds accordingly to maximize energy usage, safety, and efficiency.
Admittedly some of these ideas have precedent. In fact, the cities of Turin and Genoa in Italy has been using an induction-powered (IPT) bus line for over twelve years. Residents of the city who use the bus say they love it but other than the two no other Italian cities have adopted the IPT. Many speculate that this is due to the high start-up cost of IPT versus traditional gasoline buses.