What Are The Top 5 Road Innovations For The Near Future?
The surfacing industry has seen more innovations than ever before this year. Solutions are being created and designed every day that have massive impacts on how we commute. To celebrate our ever-evolving technologies and systems, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite road innovations that are expected to arrive in the near-future.
Designed by Studio Roosegaarde, a 500m stretch of road located in the Netherlands has removed it’s streetlights and painted the line markings with a specially formulated glow in the dark paint. The idea is that the paint would ‘charge’ during daylight time, then glow for up to 8 hours straight in the darkness. This would be extremely beneficial as not only would it massively reduce costs on electricity, but would have less of an impact on the environment.
The same company have also got plans for a paint that reacts to changes in outdoor conditions, such as snowflake-like patterns becoming visible only when it reaches 5°C or below.
Just last month, the Guardian reported a Normandy town in France revealing what they claim to be the World's first solar-panel road. They are currently testing to see if it will generate enough energy to power the streetlights. If so, this could save not only potential millions, but would be a massive step in improving our environment. The road was constructed by Colas, and the panels have been coated in a resin containing fine sheets of silicone, making them durable enough to withstand all means of traffic, including HGVs.
A road in Cumbria has been resurfaced using an innovative new asphalt mix that contains recycled plastic pellets known as MR6. The material is believed to last much longer than the average road, meaning not only will it reduce the carbon footprint of road construction, but the price of road repair will decrease due to it being required less. The project has already received £1m investment from Richard Branson following their win in the start-up category of the 2016 Virgin Media Business Voom competition. The material is currently on the A6 however is already in demand from places all over the world, including Australia, Uruguay and all over Europe.
In 2015, Highways England announced they had begun research towards wireless charging lanes for electric cars. The idea is that there would be lanes on main roads with electric cables buried underneath, generating electromagnetic fields, which will be picked up by a coil inside the device and converted into electricity. Mashable reported an announcement of 18 month trials for this in August 2015, meaning we should expect to hear of any progress within the next few months.
Although it has been mentioned slightly in the past few years, self-healing asphalt is still a very new concept. Multiple formulas have been designed, mostly for differing types of surface (i.e asphalt, concrete...). Concrete surfacing requires a bacteria-like formula, that learns its original shape and recreates it when changed. Asphalt, however, has a special form of material named ZOAB (Zeer open asfaltbeton - or 'very open asphalt' in English), in which it contains small steelwool fibres. This aids the material into 'healing itself', working almost like a memory material. However, this only occurs over a long period of time and under heat. As well as this, traffic would have to be redirected as it would have to be left untouched. Plans to introduce a material that heats up only a damaged area of this asphalt have been revealed. This would direct local heat towards the needed repair, speeding up the overall process massively.