Imagine a road that’s never covered with ice or snow and informs you about the deer crossing or the debris in the road just ahead. Science fiction? On the contrary; much of this technology already exists and we may even see it applied in our lifetimes.
In 2006, Scott and Julie Brosaw of Sandpoint, Idaho, founded Solar Roadways to develop solar road panels, thereby forming “smart” roadways. The idea is to replace asphalt and concrete surfaces with glass solar panels that would be driven upon, and these panels could contain L.E.D.’s for road lines, heating elements to defrost the surfaces, and intelligent transportation systems that can alert drivers to road hazards ahead. You may even be able to charge your electric vehicle just by driving on “mutual induction” panels.
Solar Roadways received a Small Business Innovation Grant from the Department of Transportation to build the first prototype in 2009. Two years later, another grant was received to build a solar parking lot. In April 2014, the Brosaws started a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo with a goal of $1 million to begin production. The campaign instead received $2.2 million by June, the second largest ever on IndieGoGo, and plans are to hire engineering and management staff and rent office space to push production forward.
Of course there are naysayers that say such a future is impossible. On the other hand, a long list of interested parties, ranging from railroad stations to airports and including other private and public facilities, want to climb on board the Solar Roadway. As long as our motorcycles don’t slip on the glass surface, as the company claims they won’t, we’re all in.