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Highways In Netherlands To Glow In The Dark

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Next year, roads in the Netherlands will combine a special glow-in-the-dark tarmac with a dynamic paint that will warn drivers about weather conditions.

Instead of focusing on the car to innovate the driving experience, this project innovates the highway. The concept focuses on using a special foto-luminising powder, which will make extra lighting on roads unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the Glow-in-the-dark road illuminates the contours of the road at night up to 10 hours. The system uses "Dynamic Paint", which becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations. For instance, drivers will begin to see ice crystals on the surface of the road when it's cold and slippery.

The paint will also be used to paint markers in the shape of snowflakes across the surface of the road. These markers will become visible once the temperature drops below a certain level, thus serving their purpose.

The project is a collaboration between Studio Roosegaarde, who came up with concepts like the dance floor which generates electricity through the act of dancing, and Heijmans Infrastructure. It was awarded 'Best Future Concept' at the Dutch Design Awards 2012 The 'Smart Highway' concept will be realized mid 2013 on select roads around the Netherlands.

The collaborators have also come up with products like 'Interactive Light', 'Induction Priority Lane' and 'Wind Light'. Their goal is simple, to make sustainable roads using interactive elements like light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to the traffic situation.

Brabant will be the first province to get new technology next year. It will initially receive a few hundred meters of glow in the dark and weather-indicating road. This will be followed by priority induction lanes for electric vehicles, special interactive lights, which will be activated when vehicles come close, and wind-powered-lights in around five years.

The company hopes to apply its innovations in projects in the US west coast. "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", says Daan Roosegaarde, the design firm's creative director.

"This is a story that goes beyond the 'Smart Highway' as such — it's about the fact that Heijmans and Roosegaarde are not going to wait any longer for innovations to find their way through the political system, but will start building this highway now."

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