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Glow in the dark highway of the future to begin tests next year

The look of your local roads may be ready for a reboot in the coming years.

A Dutch design firm will begin real world tests of a new “Smart Highway” next year, that aims to be safer and more energy efficient than current road networks.

The first stage of the project will be the implementation of special paints that glow in the dark to provide both illumination and information about road conditions. Lines in the road coated with a special powder will be able to glow for up to 10 hours after being charged during daylight hours, reducing the need for overhead electric lights, while temperature sensitive dynamic paints become visible when the surface gets cold, causing large snowflake designs to appear to warn drivers that the pavement may be slippery.

Next step technologies envisioned by the team of designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure include the use of small wind-powered pinwheel-style lighting fixtures and dynamic illumination that comes only when it senses a car approaching.

But the most futuristic innovation, which the team hopes to start testing within five years, are lanes designated for electric vehicles that are fitted with induction coils that will allow the vehicles to run off of grid power instead of batteries, virtually eliminating the range and charge time issues that have proven to be the biggest impediment to the widespread adoption of electric cars.