Dutch Firm Design ‘Smart,’ Glow-in-the-Dark Highway

The first prototype of the Netherlands’ “Smart Highway” – featuring a glow-in-the-dark roadway using temperature-sensitive paint – was open for public viewing during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

The design will first be implemented on a section of highway in the Netherlands’ Brabant province in mid-2013. The Smart Highway concept, created by design firm Studio Roosegaarde and infrastructure management firm Heijmans, captured the Dutch Design Award for best future concept.

The goal of the Smart Highway project is to make roads more safe, interactive and sustainable by using interactive lights, smart energy and road signs that adapt to specific traffic situations. Over the next five years, this will be accomplished employing such innovations as glow-in-the-dark roads, dynamic paint, interactive lights that switch on as vehicles approach, induction priority lanes for electric vehicles, and wind-powered lights, according to Studio Roosegaarde. The Dutch design firm is headed by Daan Roosegaarde.

The pathways of the glow-in-the-dark road are treated with a special photo-luminescent powder that makes extra lighting unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark road illuminates the contours of the road at night for up to 10 hours. Dynamic paint, a type of paint that becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations, enables the surface of roads to communicate traffic information directly to drivers using graphic symbols. For example, ice crystals will become visible on the surface of the highway to warn drivers the road is cold and slippery.

If the idea proves successful in the Netherlands, could glow-in-the-dark roads be the future for UK roads?

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