50 years ago, people could not have imagined all of the wild technological advances that would be made. Computer and communication technology has exploded and merged with car technology. Manufacturing progression is showing no signs of slowing down. How will infrastructure evolve to meet the growing demands of bustling cities? In the United States alone there are 2.68 million miles of paved roads primed and ready for an upgrade. Here’s a look at what could be coming to a road near you in the next few decades.
1. Piezoelectric Roadways
“Piezoe-what?” Piezoelectric roads harvest the electrical potential of vibrations created by passing traffic. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Basically, as your car drives it exerts force on the road which creates energy.
Dutch artist, Daan Roosegaarde, has devised a way to harvest piezoelectric energy to power glowing strips along roadways to help drivers see the edges of the road at night. Daan has implemented glowing strips along the sides of short stretches of Dutch highways that light up as a vehicle passes by. This illuminates the road in front of the driver, providing improved visibility on the highway at night.
2. EV Charging Lanes
Remember when Qi charging for your phone came out, and everyone was like “Wow, I can charge my phone through the air?” Well, imagine that on a larger scale. Using similar technology, a few European countries are running trials to wirelessly charge a passing vehicle. Currently, Highways England’s dynamic electric vehicle charging project is on hold while the technology matures. Qualcomm Technology, in partnership with VEDCOM, has taken up the charge in Satory Versailles, France.
3. Solar Roadways
Idaho based company, Solar Roadways hopes to brings photovoltaic cells to a road near you. In addition to providing electricity for the nearby area, the road itself would be packed with features. LED lights for lanes and signage, snow/ice melting systems, smart connectivity, EV charging, wire and cable protection, and the ability to help protect animals are just a few of the ideas Solar Roadways has for their ‘highways of the future’.
Photovoltaic roads have been criticized as being less efficient than traditional, angled solar panels since flat angles are not optimal for harvesting solar energy. That being said, a few cities around the world have already begun testing on photovoltaic roads, and some have even been able to provide power to all of their public street lighting.
4. Police Drones
Okay, so most people probably won’t be jumping for joy over automated speeding tickets, but this is something to make note of. As drone technology expands, it’s only logical to assume that the police force will start to get their hands on them.
Drone company, DJI, and law enforcement company, Axon, have teamed up to bring two drone models to law enforcement agencies around the globe. In reality, these drones will probably be used to track more serious offenders at first, but as drone technology becomes less expensive, their role could expand.