Smart is now a very popular term in every field. The emergence of smart technologies along with significant innovations have heavily characterized and modified many aspects of today’s society starting from science, education, health, economy, governance, and easing peoples’ lifestyles and proposing a new focus on the sustainability of the planet’s ecosystems.
The concept of smart cities has developed with the help of smart technologies. Smart highways, also called smart roads, incorporate advanced electronic technologies to enhance the operation of autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and for conducting street lighting, traffic lights, traffic levels, the speed of vehicles, and for monitoring the road condition. Technologies incorporated in smart highways monitor the road closely and improve the connection between two or more autonomous vehicles running on the same track. The technologies use Internet of Things (IoT) devices to improve visibility, thereby making driving safer and more efficient.
With this drift on board, designers and engineers are focused on improving different methods to illuminate roads in sustainable and intelligent ways. Improving smart infrastructure on highways will enhance the performance of the entire transportation system, which in turn, will help autonomous vehicles navigate roads better and safer.
According to a report published by Allied Market Research, the global smart highway market size is registered to reach $92.38 billion with a considerable CAGR from 2019 to 2026. The need to reduce accidents on the roads, lower pollution level on the highways, improve mass transit systems, reduce driving time, enhance traveler safety, and the desire for travel foster the demand for smart highways.
Moreover, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness the highest growth rate during the forecasted period. The growth of the region is attributed to a significant increase in international trade among the emerging countries such as China, India, and others. Also, emergence of smart vehicles and surge in advanced technologies in the transportation sector are contributing to the growth of the market. An increase in the number of vehicles being sold every year, owing to a rise in disposable income of the people with globalization and urbanization is boosting the market growth to a great extent.
Emerging Technologies Shaping the Future of Smart Highways
One of the smart highway technologies of the future includes an innovation called glowing lines. In this, the markings on the road surface are made by using a special paint that contains photo luminating powder. This paint, unlike traditional roadway paints, charges up under sunlight and glows for up to ten hours in the night. This technology has been implemented in several miles of roadway tests across the Netherlands. Such interactive and sustainable roadway designs improve public safety and give drivers additional information as they travel along roads at night. Also, this technology is more cost-effective than the traditional road lighting technology.
Continuing with the trends of smart highway technologies, wind powered lights, also known as turbine lights, can fuel up automatically using pinwheels to generate electricity. These lights are equipped with a turbine that works by harnessing wind drafts from the passage of cars to generate electricity.
Recently, a Netherlands design company, named Studio Roose Gaarde, has announced to bring the future of interactive highway lighting to their smart highway project. These lights are best suited for roads with less traffic. These lights use sensors to detect an approaching car so that the lights can grow brighter as the car comes near, then dim as it passes. One design has been developed in Holland that uses the wind generated by passing vehicles to power lights. With the interactive highway wind lights, there is no need to have lights illuminate empty roads anymore.
The Future of Roads: Solar-Powered Smart Highways
Solar road & highway projects are on a steep hype. Solar highways include solar panels on glass roads along with LEDs, microprocessors, & snow-melting heating devices and are specially engineered in a way that cars can stop safely even at high speeds. The highway consists of photovoltaic cells that are embedded within hexagonal panels made of tempered glass. China’s solar powered highways are durable enough to handle vehicles as large as a medium sized truck.
In addition, this solar powered highway is also designed to supply power to charging stations for electric vehicles in the near future. This is obvious that the world’s going to need more ways to charge their vehicles because of the growing popularity of electric vehicles across the world. China’s solar power highway project is urged to be the world’s first photovoltaic highway.
Meanwhile, with the continuous advancements in smart highway technologies, key companies are going to develop electric priority lanes where electric vehicles users can charge up their vehicle on the go. Electric vehicles would not have to look for charging stations on long journeys as the lane will have embedded magnetic fields that can charge the moving cars.
Furthermore, smart highway technologies with the help of AI integrated sensors can collect data to detect weather, temperature, and traffic. All the connected devices altogether gather a large array of data each minute of the day which is called the Internet of Things (IoT). Fiber optic cables are embedded in the road to detect wear and tear. Unlike the traditional systems, new technologies are able to process and optimize flows of traffic in real time.
Even though governments and transport authorities understand the importance and value of smart road technologies, development of smart highways at a large scale is restricted due to high cost and complexity. Nevertheless, the evolution in the field of sensors is going to be enormous in the upcoming years, with which, the global smart highway market is anticipated to gather immense growth prospects.
Author’s Bio – Suchita Gupta is an explorer, musician and content writer. While pursuing MBA, she found that nothing satisfies her more than writing on miscellaneous domains. She is a writer by day, and a reader by night. Besides, she can be found entertaining her audience on social media platforms. Find her on LinkedIn & Instagram.