Fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles are just one part of the solution to our future transportation problems. US highways and our transportation infrastructure are both sorely outdated, and few advancements have been made to improve the actual driving experience.
One idea we covered some months ago was the Solar Roadway, which would replace traditional asphalt roads with a grid of solar-powered, self-heating roadways. These roadways would merge utility poles, plowing, road signs and warnings into a single dynamic unit. Solar Roadways has completed their first 12′ x12′ section of road, and it looks like it works!
While realistically I don’t expect these road panels to replace every asphalt road in the near future, the project is important for a number of reasons. It integrates a self-heating element as well as road lights, signs, and warnings into a single unit. That gets rid of utility poles, plow trucks, and all the other clutter that detracts from roadside views. These panels could carry electricity as well as gather it; imagine every roadway and parking lot as a solar farm? Again, a bit of a pipe dream, but not altogether unimaginable either.
With their prototype now finished, Solar Roadways needs to pitch the idea to the government. While they will still have to contend with the problem of dealing with extremely heavy traffic, and making sure such a complicated system can work without issue… it all sounds promising. I just wonder what it will be like to come to a stop on plastic rather than asphalt?