If you have a time-traveling DeLorean, you may not need roads, but the rest of us still do. And after this winter especially, those roads may be cracked to pieces, making biking and driving particularly unpleasant. But if U.S. company Solar Roadways has its way, those — and a host of other problems related to conventional roadways — will be problems of the past.
Solar Roadways has developed electricity-generating solar-powered panels made of tempered glass that can withstand the weight of traffic. They can do all kinds of stuff, including melt snow and ice by using embedded heating elements. They can house cables and power lines, eliminating the need to run them above-ground where they’re subject to the elements. The five colors of LEDs that operate via two-way microprocessors can warn of road dangers and lead to smart parking lots and roads. These panels will also help pave the way for driverless vehicles, as well as electric vehicles, which these panels would help charge. Solar Roadways says that, if implemented on a wide scale, these roads could provide enough clean, renewable energy to power the country, thereby diminishing our reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration had funded Solar Roadways’ research and development, which is currently finishing its second phase, including testing the glass surface and building a prototype parking lot. Now the company is looking for funding for production, which is why they launched an Indiegogo campaign.
Initiated on Earth Day, the campaign has raised 10% of its $1 million goal with just under three weeks to go. It seems to me there’s nothing to lose by giving this a whirl. Sure, country-wide implementation will be a bear, but if it gets to that I’d be encouraged.
Solar Roadways is comprised of a husband-and-wife team from Idaho who have managed to hire a skeleton crew to help them. They’ve been working on this idea for the better part of a decade, and have since garnered a lot of support for their project, both political and public. Our roads are functional at best — why not enable them to do more? It’s a great use of space, and if these roads deliver what the description and video demonstrate, they’d provide a huge upgrade and myriad benefits on small and large scales.
Until we’ve all got jetpacks, this sounds like the best way to revolutionize transportation.