Road technology is a rapidly developing field, paving the way for a future that is mindful of safety and the environment. With all the attention smart vehicles get, we’ve decided that the roads on which we drive on deserve a mention too. Here are just a few of the cool ways new road technology is emerging onto the scene.
The world’s first solar roadway officially opened in December 2016 in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France. The road is made with tessellating solar panels that can generate energy and create heat to melt ice. The photovoltaic cells also contain LED lights which can create lines and signage to warn drivers when animals are crossing the road.
The one kilometre stretch of road can technically provide energy for the entire town.
The adoption of electrical smart road technology is widespread spanning 37 types of technologies in 18 countries. If it takes off, it could save billions in energy costs over time.
Speaking of world firsts, Sweden opened an electrified road that recharges the batteries of cars and trucks driving on it. The 2 km electric rail was embedded on a public road just outside of Stockholm earlier this year with an expansion already on the cards.
Forward-thinking Sweden has set a target of achieving independence from fossil fuels by 2030, requiring a 70% reduction in transport emissions. The cost of the electrification (€1m per kilometre) is 50 times cheaper than constructing a tram line.
Because smart cars need smart highways. Here Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) provide tools such as variable speed limits, ramp metering, and lane use management to improve traffic flow, road safety and manage congestion.
Such road technology initiatives are already underway in England, Australia and China, where the aim is to enable drivers to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and ‘smarter’ use of transport networks in real-time.
This is a popular trend frequently emerging in China. Wind-powered lights harness wind drafts from passing cars into electricity. The electricity then powers up the lights on the pinwheels, lighting up the road, path or carpark. The lights are grid connectable and can send excess power from the wind turbines and solar panels back through the grid. The system is almost maintenance-free with low daily runnings costs.
The GEOWEB system is a 3D web-like structure made from elastic resin, delivering higher hoop strengths and passive earth resistance.
The system provides flexibility and support for unpaved roads, roadway slopes as well as erosion protection of embankments and stormwater drainage channels. Unpaved roads built with GEOWEB are permeable and need 50% less infill.
There’s no doubt that road technology is evolving for the better. Thrifty is a proud supporter of these emerging trends, and our Tesla S75 is hugely popular among Thriftonians. Why not hire yours for an upcoming road trip?