Smart highway

Smart highway and smart road are terms for a number of different ways technologies are incorporated into roads, for improving the operation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs[1]), for traffic lights and street lighting, and for monitoring the condition of the road, traffic levels and the speed of vehicles.[2]

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.[3]

Vehicle infrastructure integration

Structural health monitoring

Solar road panels

The principal idea of solar road panels is to utilise the space occupied by roads to generate electricity via photo-voltaic panels installed in place of a conventional concrete or asphalt road surface.[4]

Other functions for solar road panels have been proposed, including the following:

  • The panels could include LED lights for creating dynamic road markings, e.g., lane markings, or warning messages such as “Reduce Speed”.[4]
  • The panels could include heating elements that produce sufficient energy to clear ice and snow from roadways.[4]
  • The panels could include wireless charging technology to recharge the batteries of electric vehicles that drive over the panels.[4]


Slate magazine stated that solar roadways would 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.[5]

Critics have pointed out that solar roadways would be both more expensive, and less productive than more conventional ways of combining solar power with infrastructure, such as building shelters over roads and parking areas and putting traditional solar panels on the roofs; Elon Musk demonstrated that there is ample space in the US, apart from roads, to fulfill the power requirements of the country.[6][7][8]


An experimental 1-kilometre road in France called Wattway, the longest solar road in the world, inaugurated in December 2016 by Segolene Royal, Minister of the Environment, fell apart by August 2018. Described as a fiasco by Le Monde, it produced half of the electricity expected, created bothersome noises from traffic, and deteriorated substantially over two years.[9]

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.[10]

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. In April 2014, a pilot stretch of highway in Brabant, Netherlands was officially opened, demonstrating the technology.[11][12] After two weeks, the paint had stopped glowing due to moisture.[13]

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.[14] Critics point to the very large energy requirements of such a system (much greater than the energy collected by the roadway in ideal conditions).[15][16]

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.[17]

See also


  1. IoT Update: How Smart Cities and Connected Cars May Benefit from Each Other Published by on 28 March 2019, retrieved on April 8, 2019
  2. AA sounds safety warning over smart motorways Published by The Guardia on April 8, 2019, retrieved on April 8, 2019
  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.
  5. Patel, Neel V. (December 28, 2017). "What Is the Point of a Solar Road?" via Slate.
  6. "Elon Musk Demonstrates Why Solar Roadways Would be Really Silly". Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  7. "Solar Roadways: An Engineering FAILURE". 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  8. "Cookiemelding -".
  9. Igor Bonnet (23 July 2019). "En Normandie, le fiasco de la plus grande route solaire du monde". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 14 August 2019. Après avoir produit la première année un peu plus de 50 % des 790 kilowattheures (kWh) par jour attendus, soit un total de 149 459 kWh sur l’année, l’équipement a généré 78 397 kWh en 2018 et 37 900 kWh depuis janvier, comme l’indiquait, début juillet, le relevé de l’association de promotion du photovoltaïque BDPV, qui recense la production d’installations solaires en France.
  10. Ross, H.R. "Roadway-Powered Electric Vehicle System". Google Patents.
  11. 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.
  12. "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.
  13. "Tegenvaller voor Weg van de Toekomst: lichtgevende lijnen werken niet" (in Dutch). Omroep Brabant. 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  14. "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
  15. "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
  16. Ryan, Dylan. "Solar panels replaced tarmac on a road -- here are the results". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  17. "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
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