Energy-efficient Smart Roads – Connecting Present To Future
Technology has truly consumed the world, with advances in mobile, automation, and cars occurring by leaps and bounds. But despite all these advances made in cars and road safety, there has been very little change in the way we make and use the roads that we drive on. There are a ton of things that can make roads more efficient and eco-friendly, and there have been some truly ambitious ideas regarding the development of road technology, right from making them out of solar panels to lining them with glow in the dark paint. And although these technologies would significantly improve road functionality and safety, the technology and significant costs involved to develop and implement it doesn’t really seem to make sense at the moment.
The idea of building smartness into roads
But now, thanks to the Internet of Things, researchers can make rapid changes to more than just technology. Some bright minds are currently developing a new kind of interactive road technology that behaves according to its surroundings like car and pedestrian traffic. According to the researchers, they are currently planning a kind of “smart” road that will be embedded with arrays of cost-effective sensors that will proactively switch the road lighting and overhead signs on and off.
The road lighting will be connected to light, weight or motion based sensors that will only illuminate the lighting in that area when there is passing traffic. Not just that, the researchers are trying to make these roads extra smart by enabling the road lighting by using the draft caused by passing cars, or even the heat of the car tires! The potential energy savings for such a project are immense, and should be enough of a reason for governments to implement such technology. The project is in the final stages of development, with real-time deployments and testing scheduled to begin soon.
The concept of using motion-sensor lighting on the roads will work very well, because when a car approaches a stretch of road, the embedded sensors will light up only that particular section of the road, with the lights gradually getting brighter as the car approaches and eventually diming as it passes by. Although it might not make sense for busy intersections and highway roads, interactive light would be the perfect solutions for use on highways and less-travelled by lanes and inner roads. These interactive lighting systems are a double edged sword because they make efficient use of energy, while not compromising on road user safety.
Smart Roads In Action
There are also other major road technology initiatives being undertaken all over the world, the UK’s Department of Transport, for example, has teamed up with a start-up company called, Neul, that is currently developing a pilot project that will feature Wi-Fi enabled deployed sensors on the busy A14 that connects Felixstowe to Birmingham. This system will serve multiple uses for drivers as it will automate a number of functions including automation of toll payments, road traffic monitoring systems and adaptive speed limits that will be based on the real-time flow of traffic. All these technological advances will ensure that roads are no longer just a medium for vehicles to travel on.