From mid 2013, the Netherlands is set to receive an upgrade to its motorway infrastructure: glow in the dark highways that also display weather indicators based on the exterior temperature.
Designated as “Smart Highways,” the design initially won the Best Future Concept award and has quickly moved beyond the drawing board. It involves the use of a photoluminising powder that charges up in sunlight and is able to glow in the dark for around 10 hours. Roads boundaries can then be illuminated, without the need for car headlights to reflect them.
“It's like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children,” designer Daan Roosegaarde explained to Wired, “but we teamed up with a paint manufacture and pushed the development. Now, it's almost radioactive.”
However it's not just illumination that is being fast tracked for Dutch motorways, but weather warnings too. The paint can also be triggered by temperature, so when the road dips below a certain threshold – when there is likely to be icy conditions – snowflakes will appear, warning drivers to take it steady.
While heads up displays are seeing some introduction in brand new vehicles, it'll be a long time before the vast majority of road users has them – and of course, there are some that will always remain in their classic vehicles. By using this very cost effective method, everyone is able to benefit from increased awareness on the roads. “It amazes me that most innovation in the west coast is screen based — I always imagined that technology jumping out of our screens and becoming part of our environment. It's incredibly important we keep imagining what our reality is going to look. A lot of people have told me along the way that what I wanted could not be done, and it's my job to prove them wrong, ” Roosegaarde continued.
KitGuru Says: With many UK councils announcing that street lights will be dimmed after 9PM, this seems like a very elegant solution that we should adopt too. What do you guys think?