Glow-In-The-Dark Highways Coming Soon To A Theater Near You?

It’s Futurama meets Tron meets… the DMV? It appears so, so far as the Dutch are concerned at least. While the wacky mashup may be missing a few ingredients, the recent revelation by the Netherlands of their all-new glow in the dark highway system promises to be a sleek and tasty dish nevertheless.

Beginning mid 2013, the Dutch plan to start implementing the new highways which will use a photo-luminizing powder to replace the country’s road markings.

The goal, ultimately, is to produce glow-in-the-dark tarmacs, with the powder charging off sunlight and saving enough energy to provide 10 hours of light during the nighttime.
Additionally, special paint will be used to draw snowflakes on the roads to notify drivers when roads are particularly icy and slippery.

Daan Roosegaarde, the designer of the concept, explains how he came up with such an exceptional idea:

“One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave,” Roosegaarde told Wired.co.uk. “I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.”

The concept, which his group — Studio Roosegaarde — worked on with infrastructure management group Heijmans, proved so effective that it won Best Future Concept at the Dutch Design Awards. The goal is not simply to use more sustainable methods of illuminating roadways, but to also rethink the design of highways while at the same time rethinking vehicle designs.

The paint the group started out using is no different than standard glow-in-the-dark paint that one can buy off the shelves; they simply altered some of the chemical makeup of the material to make it brighter. Altered glow-in-the-dark — and eco-friendly — paint can be used to illuminate highways.

Outlook

The first few hundred feet of glow-in-the-dark, weather-indicating highway will be installed in the Branbant province by the middle of 2013. The country hopes that within the next five years it will also be able to add interactive lights along the country’s major highway routes that power on only when cars pass them, as well as install a form of wind-powered illumination too.

Interactive highway lights illuminate when a car approaches.

Wind-powered highway lights are illuminated when a vehicle approaches.

Roosegaarde hopes to eventually bring his glow-in-the-dark highway concept to the United States; specifically, to the West Coast, where innovators like Google have already advanced the field of transportation:

“It amazes me that most innovation in the West Coast is screen based — I always imagined that technology jumping out of our screens and becoming part of our environment. It’s incredibly important we keep imagining what our reality is going to look. A lot of people have told me along the way that what I wanted could not be done, and it’s my job to prove them wrong.”



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