Drive into the Future

Published: 24th November 2014 06:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2014 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

Say no to asphalt and concrete; it is time to upgrade our infrastructure — roads and power grids — to 21st century Solar Roadways! And what does that look like? As the name suggests, it comprises solar panels that you can drive, park, bike and walk on, at the least, but it is much more than just that! The technology combines a transparent driving surface with underlying solar cells, electronics and sensors to act as a solar array with programmable capability. The photovoltaic cells in the surface panels are used to store and generate electricity, which can light up the roadways itself in the night, and depending on the scale and area of installations, towns and cities as well. The Solar Roadways replace all current centralised power stations including coal and nuclear-powered electricity generation plants. With the Solar Roadways, the road becomes the power grid, eliminating the need for unsightly utility poles and relay stations. Power is generated everywhere — every road, parking lot, and driveway. No more power outages, roaming or otherwise. The Solar Roadway will pay for itself through the generation of electricity along with other forms of revenue.

Solar Roadways not only generate clean, renewable energy and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels while providing hard surface for vehicles, but are designed to be smart. The roads will warn the drivers about accidents and dangers ahead with the aid of smart traffic monitoring systems and also suggest detours, which will also reduce the number of accidents. The roads will have LEDs, which will paint the lanes and traffic directions from below the panels, and light these at dusk. It will monitor your speed and warn you. You can enter a destination into your onboard GPS and an arrow will appear in the road directly ahead of your vehicle to ‘lead’ you there, rather than listening to audio driving directions in your car. Cross-walk panels have special sensors to detect a pedestrian, which makes the LEDs within the crosswalk flash and display a warning in front of oncoming vehicles. Solar Roadways will drastically reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving, thus considerably lowering insurance rates for all of us.

Electric vehicles will have easily accessible and frequent re-charge stations, while also providing infrastructure for ‘driver-less’ cars. The modular system provides safe haven as well as a decentralised system for power and data cables. Solar Roadways in cold and snowy regions will have inbuilt technology to melt the snow and keep the roads clean and dry for safer commute, thus making significant financial savings on snow removal equipment. These roadways also have an inbuilt system to treat, store and transport storm water on the roads. Every year 400 million animals are killed on the roads. Solar Roadways will protect wildlife, in two ways. First, if the weight cells embedded in the surface panels detect an animal on the road, it will light up the LEDs warning the drivers much ahead of time enabling them to slow down and avoiding deadly and costly collisions. Second, in-built motion sensors will detect animals near the roads and steer them away, and keep them off the roads.

Architecture.jpgRecycled materials can be used to build internal support structure. Trash bags, water bottles and other plastics, and rubber tyres can be mixed with organic materials to create parts of the Solar Road panels — five billion of them for the US  alone! What better way to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ than to give the garbage that sits in our landfills and oceans a new home inside the very panels that can power our world?

Solar Roadways is just the beginning. Its applications are unlimited — in army, in under-developed rural areas, our personal residences, parking lots, air traffic control, sports arenas, hospitals and in many more ventures. Drive safe into a greener and safer future!

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