Data + Design Project

Smart Highways: Safer Roads Coming Next Year

Friday 10.26.2012 , Posted by
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For anyone who has had the pleasure of driving through a seasonally cold area in the hot summer time, you were probably treated to one of the funny anomolies of such areas: road signs warning of icing on a hot day. It might be a scorcher outside, but that sign is still warning every car going by to watch out on the next curve… it could be icy ahead. Now, as part of the first prototypes for his ‘Smart Highway‘ project, Dutch designer and innovator Daan Roosegaarde has come up with an interesting solution for alerting drivers of a cold road – and it’s far smarter than the signs of the past.

The first in his series of road innovations is Dynamic Paint. It employs paint which only becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations, thus allowing the road and its state of icyness to communicate directly to the driver. As an added cool factor, Roosegaarde’s prototype uses shapes of snowflakes on the road to intuitively tell drivers it’s cold enough for ice. It’s a lot like the road version of a Coors Light can with mountains that turn blue when cold.

See Also More from Studio Roosegaarde

Next up on his list of road innovations, Roosegaarde has developed Glow-in-the-dark roads. By treating the line paint with photo-luminescent powder, he’s attempting to make additional lighting unnecessary. Charging by day light, the contours of the road would be illuminated for 10 hours each night. Think about the energy savings when streetlights on the sides of highways could be turned off. The paint would very quickly repay for itself.

Selected ‘Best Future Concept’ at the Dutch Design Awards 2012, these two features of his ‘Smart Highway’ will be realized by mid 2013 in the Netherlands. It will be an exciting test of technology which could quickly and easily make our roads safer, smarter and more efficient.

The final 3 stages of his design will be tested within the next 5 years: Interactive Light, which only turns on as cars pass; Induction Priority Lane, which charges electric cars as they pass overhead; and Wind Light, which uses the air from cars passing to charge small ground-level streetlights. Find out more about his forward thinking project at studioroosegaarde.net.

Smart Highways was selected ‘Best Future Concept’ at the Dutch Design Awards 2012

Daan Roosegaarde discusses his Smart Highway concepts

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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