Dutch Firm Creates Glow-In-The-Dark Roadway – Video

File this one under: Why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?

It seems simple enough, but only recently has someone thought to take glow-in-the-dark technology – luminescent paint, among other things – and apply it to road surfaces in order to improve driver safety.

Daan Roosegaarde, of Studio Roosegaarde in the Netherlands, in collaboration with Heijmans Infrastructure, has developed what the companies are calling the “Smart Road.”

The “Glow-in-the-Dark Road,” along with Dynamic Paint, Interactive Light, Induction Priority Lane, and Wind Light, are creations that the companies have designed to meet their goal of making roads that are more sustainable and interactive by using interactive lights, smart energy and road signs that adapt to specific traffic.

“It’s like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children, but we teamed up with a paint manufacture and pushed the development. Now, it’s almost radioactive,” said Roosegaarde in Wired.co.uk.

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The pathways of the glow-in-the-dark roads are treated with a special photo-luminizing powder, making extra lighting unnecessary. Charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark road is said to illuminate the contours of the road at night up for up to 10 hours. Dynamic Paint, paint that becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations, enables the surface of roads to communicate relevant and adequate traffic information directly to drivers.

For example, says Studio Roosegaarde, ice-crystals become visible on the surface of the road when it’s cold and slippery.

“Research on smart transportation systems and smart roads has existed for over 30 years — call any transportation and infrastructure specialist and you’ll find out yourself,” Studio Roosegaarde communications partner, Emina Sendijarevic, told Wired.co.uk.

“What’s lacking is the implementation of those innovations and making those innovations intuitive and valuable to the end-consumers – drivers … 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.”

The designs received the Best Future Concept award from the Dutch Design Awards in 2012. The first few hundred meters of glow in the dark, weather-indicating road will be installed in the province of Brabant in mid-2013.