Smart highway

Smart highway and smart road are terms for a number of different proposals to incorporate technologies into roads for generating solar energy, for improving the operation of autonomous cars, for lighting, and for monitoring the condition of the road.

Vehicle infrastructure integration

Structural health monitoring

Intelligent transportation systems

Intelligent transportation systems usually refers to the use of information and communication technologies (rather than innovations in the construction of the roadway) in the field of road transport, including infrastructure, vehicles and users, and in traffic management and mobility management, as well as for interfaces with other modes of transport.[1]

Photovoltaic pavement

Photovoltaic pavement is a form of pavement that generates electricity by collecting solar power with photovoltaics.[2] Parking lots, foot paths, driveways, streets and highways are all candidate locations where this material could be used.

In 2013 Students at the Solar Institute at George Washington University installed a solar panel walking path designed by Onyx Solar, something they call solar pavement.[3]

SolaRoad is a system being developed by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the Ooms Groep, Imtech and the Netherlands province of North Holland.[4] They plan to install their panels on 100 m of cycle path in Krommenie, Netherlands in November 2014.[5] A variant concept of a "solar road" installed in Avenhorn, by Ooms Avenhorn Holding AV, uses asphalt and tarmac to absorb the sun’s rays and heat water for use in domestic heating.[6]

The Solar Roadways company of Idaho, USA, is developing a prototype system to replace current roads, parking lots, and driveways with photovoltaic solar road panels that generate electricity.[7]

South Korea has built a freeway with the median covered by solar panels above a bikepath.[8]

The first photovoltaic road in the world was constructed in Tourouvre, Orne, France in 2016.[9][10] Called "Wattway", it was built by Société Nouvelle Aeracem (SNA), and dedicated by the French Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal on October 25, 2016.[10] The 1-km section of road opened to traffic on 22 December 2016.[11] It is believed the road will provide enough power for the town's streetlights.

The Jinan solar highway opened in China in December 2017 along a 1.2 mile stretch. It uses transparent concrete on the top layer with the solar panels underneath. It was the second solar roadway in the city, the first opened in September 2017 using a different technology.[12][13]

Solar Road Panels

The main purpose of solar roadways is to replace asphalt roads with Solar Panels which generate energy through the sun that can be used by local houses or businesses that are connected to the system from either the house’s driveway or the businesses parking lot. The panels will also increase the number of charging stations for electric cars if that station is connected to the solar roadway. Each panel is roughly 12’ by 12’ of interlocking panels that have their own LED lights that will be used as the road lines, and can also be used to spell out words like “Reduce Speed” or “Traffic Ahead” to help the flow of traffic.[14]

There are 3 layers that make up the solar panels:

1. The Road Surface Layer - The Road Layer is the High Strength layer that has the photovoltaic cells which attracts the sun’s rays, it has traction so vehicles don’t slide off the road, and it’s waterproof to protect the layers below.[14]

2. The Electronic Layer - The Electronic Layers contain a mini microprocessor board that helps control the heating element of the panels, this technology can help melt the snow that lands on the panels so that hazardous road conditions will no longer be an issue in the more northern regions. This layer can sense how much weight is on the panels and can control the heating element to melt the snow.[14]

3. The Base Plate Layer - The Base Plate Layer is the layer that collects the energy from the sun and distributes the power to the homes or businesses that are connected to the solar roadways. This will also be used to transfer the energy to cars as they drive over the strip to recharge the battery.[14]


Slate magazine stated they'd produce less electricity than solar cells that are placed at an angle, and that less light would touch them because of shade, dirt covering the road, and cars blocking the sun from touching the panels. [15]

Smart Pavement

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began testing out “smart pavement” at a rest stop outside of Conway, Missouri along historic Route 66 late in 2016. The pilot program currently covers about 200 square feet of sidewalk at the visitor center and cost $100,000 (Landers), largely subsidized by the Federal Highway Administration.[16] It’s all part of Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative to find new innovations in their transportation infrastructure. Missouri wants to take advantage of these roadways to implement other, related technologies. The panels will heat the road and keep snow and ice from accumulating. They will also feature LED diodes that will increase the visibility of road lines. The LEDs would also double in helping prevent paint from inhibiting solar power generation.[17] The panels have not had enough time to determine durability, energy efficiency, or cost effectiveness in a real world sense yet, so MoDOT has not reach any conclusions about feasibility and future application yet.

Wireless vehicle charging

The Online Electric Vehicle being developed by KAIST (the  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) has electrical circuits built into the road which will power suitably adapted vehicles via contactless electromagnetic induction. A pilot system powering electric buses is under development. Germany's IAV is another company that is developing induction chargers.

Electromechanical Batteries

Roadway-powered electric vehicle system is the patent held by Howard R. Ross. It has several components. The first of which is an all electric vehicle that would be fit with electromechanical batteries that accept a charge from the road. The road is the second component and would have strategically placed charging coils as to only charge the car when needed. These cars and roads would not require gas or solar power.[18]

Nowhere in the world is an invention like this currently implemented, and this is due to the cost of the infrastructure overhaul that would be needed to bring this patent into reality.

Road markings

The Smart Highway concept developed by Studio Roosegaarde and the infrastructure management group Heijmans in the Netherlands incorporated photo-luminescent paint for road markings, which absorb light during the day then glow for up to 10 hours. The technology was demonstrated on a stretch of highway in Brabant, Netherlands.[19][20]

Frost protection and melting snow, ice

Snowmelt systems using electricity or hot water to heat roads and pavements have been installed in various locations.

Solar Roadways has proposed including a snowmelt system with their photovoltaic road panels since the panels already have electrical power connections for harvesting photovoltaic power.[21] Skeptics point to the cost.[22]

ICAX Limited of London's "Interseasonal Heat Capture" technology captures solar energy in thermal banks and releases it back under a roadway, heating it and keeping asphalt free of ice.[23]


In the U.S., a study found that between 1996-2011, over 12,000 deaths were caused by winter-related precipitation.[24] Annually over 500,000 accidents occur because of winter-related weather.[25] In 2014, federal, state, and local governments spent $73 billion on operation and maintenance of highways, including for resurfacing needed because of current snow removal techniques.[26] Between October 2014-April 2015, 23 state DOTs reported spending $1.131 billion on snow and ice removal, including 8 million working hours,[27] not including local expenditures. For instance, between 2003-2015, the city of New York estimated the cost of snow and ice removal at $1.8 million per inch.[28] Annually, auto drivers lose $23.4 billion in corrosion-related repair costs and depreciation linked to chemicals used to treat roadways during winter.[29] In 2014, economists estimated that snow and ice that winter had cost the country $47 billion in GDP and 76,000 jobs.[30]

With snow and ice melt systems deployed to obstruct winter weather, deaths, accidents, governmental and insurance costs, economic losses, and personal auto expenditures are reduced.[22]

See also


  2. Matej Lufčić; Marina Maras; Mario Vukelić. "Energy Saving Design and Materials in Road Transport". Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  3. "Students Install the World's First Solar Pavement Panels in Virginia | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building". Inhabitat. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  4. "SolaRoad website". Archived from the original on 2014-06-06.
  5. "The Netherlands to Pave Roads with Solaroad Solar Panels | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building". Inhabitat. 2012-05-23. Archived from the original on 2014-04-26. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  6. "Dutch Company Drives New Solar Power". Archived from the original on 2014-05-27.
  7. Following the Solar Brick Road Archived 2014-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Reich, J.E. (July 27, 2015). "The Daejeon-Sejong Bike Highway Is Solar Powered And Good For The Environment". Tech Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-02. The solar panels are used to power the lights that line the highway proper, as well as ... electric car chargers.
  9. Tsagas, Ilias (August 4, 2016). "France gets a step closer to solar roads". PV Magazine Global. ...the product is based on crystalline silicon, and although it is very thin, ... it is also “very sturdy, skid-resistant and designed to last,” with the durability to bear all types of vehicles, including trucks.
  10. 1 2 Bourgin, Yohann (October 25, 2016). "High Tech. Ségolène Royal lance la première route solaire dans l'Orne". Sud-Ouest. Archived from the original on October 28, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  11. Kim Willsher (December 22, 2016). "World's first solar panel road opens in Normandy village". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  12. John Fitzgerald Weaver (December 21, 2017). "China is building solar roadways – 'transparent concrete' atop solar cells that charge driving cars". Electrek. Archived from the original on January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  13. Steve Hanley (December 30, 2017). "China Opens 1-Kilometer Long Solar Road". CleanTechnica. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Ranjan, Rajeev (January–February 2015). "Solar Power Roads: Revitalising Solar Highways, Electrical Power and Smart Grids". International Journal of Engineering Research and General Science. 3 (1): 380–385.
  15. Patel, Neel V. (December 28, 2017). "What Is the Point of a Solar Road?" via Slate.
  16. Cronkleton, Robert A. (August 4, 2016). "Missouri's solar roadways to begin with sidewalk at historic Route 66 Welcome Center". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  17. Landers, Jay (2016). "Missouri to Test Solar Roadways, Smart Pavement as Part of Road to Tomorrow Project". Civil Engineering—ASCE. 86 (9): 30–31. Archived from the original on 4 May 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  18. Ross, H.R. "Roadway-Powered Electric Vehicle System". Google Patents.
  19. Clark, Liat. "Netherlands highways will glow in the dark from mid-2013 (Wired UK)". Archived from the original on 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  20. "Glow in the dark road unveiled in the Netherlands". BBC. 2014-04-14. Archived from the original on 2014-07-03. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  21. "Solar-powered 'smart' roads could zap snow, ice" Archived 2017-02-04 at the Wayback Machine., Thom Patterson. CNN. January 19, 2011. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  22. 1 2 "Solar Powered Roads: The Future, or Just Hype?" Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine., Andy Jensen. Zero to 60 Times. June 2016. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  23. "Independent results published by TRL on Toddington ice clearing demonstration using Interseasonal Heat Transfer™ to heat roads" Archived 2016-12-19 at the Wayback Machine., ICAX. April 2008. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  24. "Study: 800 die each year in US in winter driving crashes; Upstate NY hit hard" Archived 2017-09-27 at the Wayback Machine., Glenn Coin. The Times Standard. March 27, 2015. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  25. "How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?" Archived 2017-02-02 at the Wayback Machine., Federal Highway Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation. February 1, 2017. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  26. "Approaches to Make Federal Highway Spending More Productive" Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine., Congressional Budget Office. February 2016. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  27. "Survey of 23 States Shows $1 billion Spent, 8 Million Work Hours Logged and Six Million Tons of Salt Used to Battle Winter Weather" Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine., Tony Dorsey. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. May 4, 2015. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  28. "COLD, HARD FACTS: COST OF ICE AND SNOW REMOVAL IN NEW YORK CITY AVERAGES $1.8 MILLION PER INCH" Archived 2016-12-24 at the Wayback Machine., Eric Sumberg. City of New York Comptroller. January 2015. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  29. "Snow, Salt, and the Car Wash" Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine., Tony Vertin. Wash Trends. November 15, 2012. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
  30. "Severe winter weather estimated to cost U.S. economy nearly $50 billion" Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine., Jim Puzzanghera. Los Angeles Times. February 14, 2014. Retrieved 8 feb 2017
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