Chelsy Xiong // Blog Post #3
Solar Roadways is a company created by inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw which raised more than $2.2 million in crowdfunding in 2014 to bring their technology to market.
“Scott Brusaw would spend hours setting up miniature speedways on the living room carpet so that he could race his favorite slot cars up and down the electric tracks.
“I thought that if they made real roads electric, then us kids could drive,” recalls Brusaw, who grew to become an electrical engineer. ‘That thought stuck with me my entire life.'”
It is a modular system of specially engineered solar panels that can be walked and driven upon. Solar Roadways is the path to future roads as it replaces asphalt based roads with these panels that contain LED lights to create lines and signage without paint. They contain heating elements to prevent snow and ice accumulation and have microprocessors that allow the panels to communicate with each other. Solar Roadways’ panels are made of specifically formulated tempered glass, which have a tractioned surface which is equivalent to asphalt and can support the weight of semi-trucks.
“The panels have passed load testing for vehicles weighing up to 125 tons without breakage,” he adds. “Our textured surface has been traction tested and can stop a vehicle traveling 128kph on a wet surface in the required amount of distance.”
There’s a bright future for the startup, Solar Roadways was first funded through a research contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation and were just awarded a third contract in November 2015. Solar Roadways will be installed on Route 66 as part of Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative, which focuses on improvements like smart highways and incorporating renewable energy. The idea has become so popular that President Obama has mentioned the project during his 2015 State of the Union address and an Indiegogo campaign garnered an additional $2 million for the project.
The Brusaws have claimed that solar road panels could theoretically be laid anywhere — from motorways and parking lots to pavements and playgrounds. That by replacing all of America’s roads and parking lots with their solar pavers it would generate more than three times the country’s electricity consumption in 2009. It will be able to charge electric vehicles with clean energy from the sun, first on solar parking lots and when they have enough highway infrastructure, while driving.
Brusaw says He believes that such a prospect could transform the existing motorway infrastructure, prevent accidents and ultimately help save the planet from an environmental disaster.