If you’ve ever wondered about the concept of smart and sustainable motorways, you’ve come to the right place. Below are presented some of the most technologically advanced ideas going around in the industry. So prepare to be amazed with what the future holds in terms of sustainability and its use in roadway networks!
“What are smart motorways?”, you ask.
In layman terms, they are sections of motorways with upgraded facilities like variable speed limits, dynamic hard shoulders, monitoring sensors, and cameras.
The best use for solar energy
Curiosity and the constant need to evolve, which are parts of human nature, have led researchers towards working on making every part of our life easier, smarter and more sustainable. For example, they are planning, and in some case already implementing the use of solar panels on motorway lanes. These super-resilient solar panels will be made the base component for roads instead of traditionally used tarmac. Using the sun as the power source to charge these panels, they will be then used to show speed limits, warn drivers about lane closures and might even be able to charge on-board car accessories and road signs.
The future that we all thought impossible is now knocking on our doors. With really long charging times, most people are put off of EVs due to this specific downside. This could all change with “electric” roads. The main concept behind this idea is to boost sustainable mobility by introducing roads with a special on-the-go inductive charging mechanism. These motorways would work based on a similar concept as to that of wireless phone chargers, for example. A designated wiring system would induce an electromagnetic field through coils under the top layer of the road and work towards transferring energy to the vehicles running above.
These eco-friendly lanes will prevent unnecessary carbon air pollution. Some cities, such as Milton Keynes in the UK have already starting to change their infrastructure when electric buses were introduced. They are charged during the night at depots and also during their stops at various bus stations. This brilliant idea can also be implemented on parking lots too. Sweden has already opened up the world’s first electric-car friendly road back in April 2018. It charges all cars and trucks that drive on it. On top of that, Sweden also aims to completely eliminate fossil fuel consumption in the next 10 years and other countries should try their best to follow the amazing examples and goals that they’re setting.
Motorway friendly bacteria?
There has been a huge breakthrough in the motorway maintenance sector. In fact all roads including motorways will be able to use this innovative idea to decrease the financial burden that constant repairs and hours of hard labour are. Researchers at Cambridge, Bath and Cardiff Universities have come forward with an ingenious solution in the form of “self-healing concrete”. A certain type of bacteria can be used as a healing agent as they help fill in cracks, stopping the damage of the road surface before it gets worse. When moisture enters the gap, the bacteria produces limestone to secure the crack. Just imagine how this will reduce the unnecessary labor and resources.
Scientists and research institutes of the world are coming towards more progressive solutions to build a safer environment for us all. Some ideas are popular and some are not yet successful due to budget constraints and practical feasibility. However, while we wait for modern technology to create swift changes; we need to improve our existing means of transportation and make changes in our own lifestyles. For example, whenever possible, opt for bikes or public transport to reduce the amount of harmful air pollution; encourage others to invest in eco-friendly products and services that can reduce the carbon footprint. After all, we can’t afford to lose the only home we have ever known.
Image source: Oponeo