The Netherlands has one more thing to be proud of, being one of the very few, if not the very first, to boast of something called a “Smart Highway”. No, this has nothing to do with mobile devices or wireless technology. It’s about being smart about road safety and being smart about energy consumption, especially at night. How? By designing highways, or to be more precise, paint, that will soak in solar energy during the day and then paint the night, or the road, green at night.
The brainchild of designer Daan Roosegaarde and a collaboration with construction company Heijmans, the Smart Highway has been almost two years in the making. The goal of the first chapter is to be able to replace power-hungry street lamps with these environment-friendly luminous paint to be used for markings and demarcations. This week, the design company closed a chapter of that plan and declared Smart Highway N329 in Oss as done.
The company hasn’t fully detailed how it solved some of the problems that held it back last April. Based on their press statements, it seems that the 8-hour limit of the special paint is still the status quo. While that might be sufficient for some seasons, it might be incredibly short during longer nights. Of course, there will most likely be backup lights for those cases, but it would have been ideal if they were able to extend that limit even by two hours more. It also remains to be seen how the paint will be able to handle wear and tear, both natural and man-made, over the course of time.
This, however, is just one chapter of Studio Roosegaarde’s plans. Highway N329 is just the pilot and they plan to launch the Smart Highway in other places. But more than just more of the same thing, they also plan to carry out their more ambitious ideas, like “Dynamic Paint” that can show different designs depending on the surrounding temperature, or “Interactive Light”, or “Induction Priority Lane” for charging electric cars. Still no details on these latter ideas and it would probably take a few more years before we even start seeing prototypes.