American roadways are crumbling, and are in desperate need of repair. We are also in need of more sources for renewable energy. Why not combine the two? Solar Roadways is a company based out of Idaho that aims to do just that. Each module has a solar panel, a heater, LED display, and a microprocessor.
Each module is covered with tempered glass similar to the type that you would find in your windshield. Solar Roadways also covers the glass in a grip material to increase traction in slick conditions. The glass has been thoroughly stress tested so there is no worry of breakage.
Inside, each module has a solar panel which will power not only the module itself, but the power grid too. Calculations done by Solar Roadways, estimate that if the U.S. was recovered in these, they we could produce up to 3x the power that we use currently. For more wintry areas snow plows will become a thing of the past with the built in heater. Unfortunately kids may no longer get snow days—
One of the most exciting things to come out of this could be reconfigurable roadways. Each tile is pressure sensitive, and will light up when a child or animal steps onto the road. This could help people living in the country see deer or other large animals way before they are in danger. Reconfigurable roads could also help prevent improve travel time by rerouting drivers around traffic jams. The LEDs in the module could also be used on a playground and be reconfigured to fit a child’s needs.
Other benefits from these modules are: easily repaired roads compared to expensive resurfacing (each hexagon is removable), rerouting of power and telephone lines to a tunnel attached to the modules, rerouting of storm drains in another tunnel attached to the modules. The Federal Highway Administration awarded two contracts to solar Roadways in 2009 to build a prototype (and eventually a 2nd prototype in 2011). Hopefully with the Federal Highway Administration contracts, we can see real world trials sometime soon. Watch the video below to find out more.