We’ve all learned about connected vehicles, self-driving cars, GPS mapping, applications for route optimization and ride-hailing services. Smart roads and other smart road technologies are relevant to the advancement of the transportation sector of a country. We are going to dig deep into this in the upcoming sections.
Let’s start from scratch.
What are Smart Roads?
To make driving safer, more effective, and greener, in line with government goals, smart roads use Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
With software infrastructure such as AI and big data, smart roads integrate physical infrastructures such as sensors and solar panels.
Smart road technologies are embedded in roads and can enhance visibility, generate electricity, communicate with connected and autonomous vehicles, track road conditions, and more.
Here are a few examples:
- IoT connectivity: Cities can connect roads to IoT devices and collect data about traffic and weather. Health, traffic control, and energy efficiency can be enhanced by this form of connectivity.
- Traffic management networks: For safety enhancement and congestion reduction. To provide warning signs for unsafe situations, the network uses speed cameras and sends automatic traffic diversion signals that control traffic.
- Traffic lights optimization: Systems that use data from closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras or smart vehicles to optimise traffic signals and jam or bottleneck alerts for commuters.
Let me show you main smart road technologies in the next section.
Smart road technologies in detail
Let’s meet each of the smart road technologies in this section.
1. Solar powered roadways
- Inside hexagonal panels made of tempered glass, which are used to pave paths, photovoltaic cells are integrated.
- These panels include LEDs, microprocessors, heating devices for snow-melting and electric vehicle inductive charging capabilities while driving. Glass is renewable and can be engineered to be stronger than steel, even when driving at high speeds and to allow cars to stop safely.
- Although this concept has gained widespread acceptance, as it remains costly, scalability is a problem.
2. Glow in the dark roads
- A photo-luminescent powder that absorbs and stores daylight uses glowing markers painted on existing roadway surfaces.
- For 8 hours after dark, the 500m long strips shine.
- This technology is still in the testing process, and the glow is not yet reliable, but it may be more cost-effective than conventional technologies for road lighting.
3. Interactive lights for smart roads
- As cars approach, road lights triggered by motion sensors illuminate a specific section of the road.
- Once the vehicle leaves, the lights fade. Interactive lights, ideal for roads with less traffic, provide night visibility when required and minimise energy wastage when there are no vehicles.
- The wind created by passing vehicles to power lights is used in one design built in Holland.
4. Electric priority lane for charging electric vehicles
- Magnetic fields that charge electric vehicles while driving are created by embedded cables.
- In the engine, a receiver coil picks up electromagnetic oscillations from a road-embedded transmitter coil and converts them to AC, which can then power the car.
- For static cars, inductive charging technology already exists, but potential wireless technology could charge batteries when in motion, providing electric vehicles that drive longer journeys with distance-range solutions.
5. Weather detection
- Weather conditions that affect road safety are identified by networks of AI-integrated sensors.
- Today’s Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) are limited in use because they gather data only from a small number of weather stations.
- In order to capture atmospheric and weather data and automatically upload it to the cloud, a bigger future network might use automated weather stations.
- To illustrate invisible roadway conditions like black ice, complex temperature-sensitive paint could be used.
6. Traffic detection
- Traffic detection implies information that helps travellers schedule their journeys.
- Highway-lining sensors track traffic flow and weight load, warn traffic jam drivers, and automatically inform authorities of incidents.
- Wear and tear are identified by fibre-optic cables embedded in the lane, and contact between vehicles and roads will enhance traffic management. Rapid flow technologies, for example, use artificial intelligence (AI) to control traffic lights that respond to each other and to automobiles.
- In order to maximise flow during peak journey times, conventional systems have been pre-programmed and emerging technologies are able to process and optimise flows in real-time.
In the next section, let us find out the importance of smart roads.
Importance of Smart Roads
- The importance of smart roads is recognised by many governments and transport authorities.
- It can, however, be expensive and complicated to build smart city infrastructure on a large scale.
- Starting with low-investment, narrow-scale initiatives that can provide initial value, leaders can break down smart road projects into stages, setting the stage for high-investment and large-scale efforts.
- Cars were possible in the early days of motor-powered mobility, but no suitable road networks existed; the first private cars were barely more powerful than horse-driven waggons.
- The authorities have increasingly agreed that only a substantial investment in road infrastructure would allow the population to benefit from modern transport technologies.
- Similarly, the importance of smart roads as an important forum for mobility innovation is beginning to be understood by today’s governments and urban transport authorities.
- Smart roads will power smarter vehicles, motivate drivers, and provide unparalleled visibility and control of the living fabric of motor-based traffic for governments.
We have reached at the end of the section. Let’s conclude smart roads now.
- Although countries such as Dubai have announced plans to develop and incorporate existing smart technology into their traffic networks, China is one of the first, if not the first, to announce plans to create a planned 161-kilometer-long smart road in its eastern province of Zhejiang, incorporating safety features to enable sensor-tracked autonomous driving, an Internet of Vehicles system and solar p pp.
- The growth of autonomous vehicles in the world has also given rise to the concept of smart highways, encompassing all kinds of technology to build a safer and more effective driving environment, such as sensors, solar panels and software.
That’s it about smart roads. Let us know in comments if you have any doubts.