You can still get your kicks on U.S. Highway Route 66, at least on some parts of it.
And, the historic highway, (also known as the Mother Road, the Main Street of America or the Will Rogers Highway) could one day inspire someone to call it the Solar Highway, if a pilot project pans out.
According to the Kansas City Star, Missouri’s Department of Transportation is working toward paving a section of the famous route with energy-generating photovoltaic solar pavers that in the future could look like the rendering above.
The department says that the Historic Route 66 Welcome Center at Conway, Missouri will get the first such panels on a public right of way in the U.S., helping to pave the way to the roadways of tomorrow.
“If their version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves,” said Tom Blair, leader of the department’s Road to Tomorrow Initiative to the Star of panels developed by Sand Point, Idaho based Solar Roadways.
The tentative plan is to pave the test area with the rugged solar panels, which will generate power that could be later sold to the grid, creating a self-perpetuating fund for future roads.
The hexagonal panels are made of specifically formulated tempered glass, which can support the weight of semi-trucks, and has a tractional surface equivalent to asphalt.
Each panel covers an area of about 4.39 square feet and produce 48 watts of electricity.
Embedded heating elements in the panels prevent snow and ice accumulation, providing a safer surface for both drivers and pedestrians.
Rather than using paint, LED lights are programmed to show lane markings, direction markings and driver warnings, and can be seen in the daylight.
A bonus for electric car owners is the electricity generated can power roadside charging stations and, when the technology becomes available, cordless inductive charging while driving.
It was not revealed how large an area would be paved with the panels, but the transportation department expects the panels to be fully installed and operational by the end of the year.
The department is launching their own crowdfunding campaign to support their energy experiment and get the most out of the project.