What is Smart Roads ?
Smart roads , also known as smart highways , is a term used to describe roads that use sensors and IoT technology which makes driving safer and greener.
Smart cities and self-driven cars of the near future would not be ‘smart’ enough without smart roads.
Illustration 1: Image credit: ThomasWolter/Pixabay
Smart roads can provide real-time information to drivers about weather conditions such as icy roads and traffic information such as congestion and parking availability.
Smart roads are particularly useful on risky or mountainous roads to make driving safer by warning about incoming traffic or landslides. Smart roads can also generate energy to use for street lights or to charge electric vehicles on the move.
“Smart roads are a relatively new innovation using IoT technologies.”
Smart road technologies and On going Projects:
Here are some of the ongoing projects which are notable in the field of smart roads.
Virginia Smart Roads
A 2.2-mile long road is developed by Virginia Tech for testing new pavement and transportation technologies. Different weather and lighting conditions can be simulated for testing purposes using 75 weather making towers on the road.
The Virginia Smart Road has 400 embedded sensors to collect data about the pavement conditions and traffic. A fiber optic system is used to communicate between the vehicles, control tower and the road.
Roads that honk, India
The portion of NH-1 between Jammu and Srinagar is among the world’s most dangerous roads. This road is converted to a smart road project dubbed ‘Road that honks’ to make the road safer and reduce accidents.
SmartLife poles are installed near hairpin bends that determine the speed of incoming vehicles and warn them about vehicles ahead, by honking. To determine the speed of vehicles , these SmartLife poles use radar sensors that transmit electromagnetic waves.
These waves bounce back when they encounter a vehicle. Depending on the change in frequency and the time taken by the wave to reach back, the speed and distance of the oncoming vehicle are determined.
Solar Roadways project
Solar Roadways is a hugely popular project which uses smart solar panels to create roadways. These solar panels can generate enough clean energy, using the sun, to charge electric vehicles.
They also contain LEDs to dynamically change lane or parking configurations as per the situation. This is particularly useful in the dark to warn about obstacles such as debris or animal on the road.
Since these panels have embedded heating elements, they can also melt snow and ice on roads and prevent traffic problems caused by snow.
New Carquinez Bridge
The very busy new Carquinez Bridge in California has a wireless monitoring system installed to gather structural information of the bridge. There are 33 wireless sensor nodes, called Narada nodes, on the bridge.
These nodes use accelerometers, strain gauges, wind vanes and thermistors to measure acceleration and strain on the bridge, along with temperature and wind effects on the bridge. These nodes run on solar energy.
Road that charges OLEV bus
In South Korea, a road has been adapted to wirelessly charge an electric bus while it travels on its route. The road is fitted with a magnetic device which can generate electricity through an electromagnetic field.
A similar device is present under the bus to pick up the electric charge. Less than 15% of the route needs to be upgraded with the device to provide enough electric charge on the route. The buses can use significantly smaller batteries since they can be charged on the go.
More innovative projects are being undertaken using IoT for smart roads, around the world. There is a lot of potential for exploring new ideas for developing smart roads. Smart roads are certainly the roads of the future.
See also: What is Connected Parking?
Let us know what you think about the Smart Roads and its technologies in the comment section below.
Illustration 2 : Featured Image credit: StockSnap/Pixabay