Smart Highways Of The Future
Cars get smarter by the year. But what about the roads? Artist Daan Roosegaarde and the construction company Heijmans work together on the ambitious concept of smart highways. Roads will undergo a complete metamorphosis in the future, making them more sustainable, much safer and efficient. Not only car drivers will benefit, but also cyclists and pedestrians.
Image: Holland Toolkit/HB
It’s the key function of every road: getting you from place to place, as quickly, safely and with as little effort as possible. To help you along your way, roads come with a variety of features such as traffic information via signs and lighting via lampposts.
Recent innovations such as ‘dynamic paint’ and ‘interactive light’ can now integrate these features right into the road surface itself, creating new ways highways communicate, bringing us closer to the ubiquitous ‘Smart Highway’ – the name Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans called their pioneering concept.
The fruitful collaboration between these two parties is a prime example of innovative industry, typical of Holland’s enterprising multifunctional attitude. The design, creativity and interactivity by Roosegaarde’s Studio and the ingenuity and craftsmanship of Heijmans are fused into one common goal: innovation of the Dutch landscape.
Sunlight charges the road lines by day, making them clearly visible throughout the night. There is no limit to the design of the road markings, whether a continuous stripe, a broken line, even words, depending on the road conditions. Another development is dynamic paint, whereby the road surface responds to the temperature, for instance to show warning when a road is slippery due to frost.
Several pilot projects have already been conducted, generating lots of interest from abroad.
The glowing lines can be experienced every night on highway N329 in Oss, the Netherlands. Based on this pilot, new projects will be launched internationally. Also the Dutch minister of Infrastructure has asked for a new Smart Highway design to be made for the ‘Afsluitdijk’, the iconic 32km Dutch dike.
Van Gogh path
Another innovative and artistic pilot, developed by Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans, is the Van Gogh bicycle path, named after the famous Dutch painter. It’s made of thousands of twinkling stones inspired by 'Starry Night', one of Van Gogh’s famous oil paintings. The path combines innovation with cultural heritage in the town of Nuenen (near the city of Eindhoven) the place where Van Gogh lived in the year 1883.
Taking the lead
Planning for more interactivity between roads, vehicles and pedestrians is the focus for the future. Even large companies like Google, Uber and major car makers from all over the world have become investors.
The future development will be no less important than route planning and GPS; just as TomTom demonstrated Dutch excellence in this field, Heijmans / Roosegaarde is in pole position to excel to the next level. But not only them: keep an eye on research at Delft University of Technology (TU), Eindhoven University (TUE) and project SolaRoad.