April 16, 2014
The Netherlands Introduces First Glow-In-The-Dark Road To Help Drivers
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While it is only a short stretch of road it could soon pave the way to the future. This week in The Netherlands a 500 meter (1640 feet) stretch of highway introduced the world to the first glow in the dark markings that could help drivers better navigate the road at night.
Interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde teamed up with Dutch civil engineering and road construction firm Heijmans, and with a special paint that contains a “photo-luminescent” powder that charges up in daytime and slowly releases a green glow, created the short stretch as a proof of concept. The result could mean roads may not need streetlights in the future.
The technology is now being tested with an official launch later this month, and it is the first time that “glowing lines” technology has been utilized on a road. It can be seen – truly seen at night – on the N329 in Oss, which is approximately 60 miles south east of the capital of Amsterdam.
Studio Roosegaarde first proposed this back in 2012, but it took nearly two years to cut through the red tape to get the green lines on the road. The results are reportedly somewhat magical.
“It looks like you are driving through a fairytale," which pretty much sums up this extraordinary project. The design studio like to bring technology and design to the real world, with practical and beautiful results,” the NOS Dutch media site reported via Wired UK.
The idea actually came from a Roosegaarde’s love of the open road.
“One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave. I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us,” he told Wired back in 2012.
The effectiveness of the roads is still somewhat debatable. As with most glow-in-the-dark technology it requires sun light to “charge” up the paint.
“Roosegaarde’s design still faces some challenges that can really only be triggered by real world use,” Slash Gear reported. “The road markings, which currently only consist of three strips of what has been called "radioactive green", only lasts 8 hours. And that is on a full day’s worth of charging. The paint also has to withstand the wear and tear of both elements and vehicles. It also remains to be seen whether these will be as, or even more, effective than street lights, though they’re savings cannot be disputed.”
There is also the issue of how sustainable the paint might be on the road as cars drive over it on a daily basis, and how dirt and snow might impact the visibility.
The BBC reported that the UK Highways Agency said it was watching the trial in The Netherlands with interest, but added that previous studies had shown that "luminescent road paint would be unsuitable for use in this country."
“We have some high visibility markings already on roads in the UK, plus cats-eye technology etc.,” Professor Pete Thomas, from Loughborough University's Transport Safety Research Centre, told the BBC. “So the question is how much better than these is this alternative? If we put this technology on all unlit roads that would be a lot of kilometres and it would be a big investment so if safety improvement is the target then we need hard evidence about how this compares to what we already have and to back up any safety claims.”