Highlight: Solar Roadways


Lucas Ewing – Blog Post Week #14

Currently there is research being done by the US Department of Transportation to creating solar roadways. This type of roadway are designed to be hexagonal and interlocking, and (if damaged) are able to be replaced one single panel at a time.  These panels’ exterior are made up of a hard tempered glass, able to withstand the extreme weights and harsh impacts seen along highways and interstates.  Inside these panels are not only solar paneling, but also “smart” technology, including LED lights and a specific programming system.  These systems of programming can be tied together to create shapes and figures out of these lights, which would essentially be the replacement for lines in the road.  Another component of this smart programming involves the ability to be programmed via pressure sensitivity, which could be utilized at night to pick up footprints of animals crossing at any random place along the roadway.  There is also a potential to introduce a self-heated system into these for northern climates, which would hypothetically eliminate frozen precipitation build-up on roads and sidewalks.

I guess the biggest question I have about this technology is this: why hasn’t this already been applied, at least in smaller scale operations?  Tom Fischer has given a lecture that discusses sustainability in the architectural world, specifically pertaining to transit. With the self-driven car becoming more and more within our grasp as a society, the need for parking garages is going to diminish, and the roadway system currently in place will most likely face some sort of impact as well.  This would be a great opportunity to answer his question as to what we do with these spaces: perhaps the top level of all parking garages becomes a collector of solar energy, which would add more benefit to the garage itself rather then tearing it down and starting all over.  In association with the self-driving car, perhaps particular panels could also be programmed to have some sort of “homing” device built into them, which could greatly increase the guidance abilities of these cars.  Perhaps the biggest influence to using these as soon as possible is the fact that roadways won’t need to be replaced in such mass scales using harmful materials such as those found in the concrete/tar production process.  The need for these technologies would begin to decline, which could in turn increase the health of our world in that way as well, not to mention all of the clean energy we would receive from the use of the solar panels as well.

Source: http://www.solarroadways.com/Home/Index

There’s also a fun video that better helps explain this technology, linked here.


One comment

  1. rayl008

    i have read about these solar panels before. They are very efficient and seem as if they would be really eco friendly, but i have also heard that they are pretty expensive and difficult to incorporate into already established infrastructure. I do however have the same question as you. Why isn’t there at least attempts to utilize this innovative technology? This seems to be common with sustainable products and technologies.

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