Scott and Julie Brusaw came up with a really novel idea. They designed hexagonal tiles that can be installed in parking lots, driveways, roadways and highways. They call these Solar Roadways.
These glass tiles contain solar cells, LED lights, and other circuitry. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it now! It’s actually kinda funny in addition to being interesting. In part because of the fun aspect, this video has gone viral. Another reason could be because of it’s eco-centric message. Anything eco-centric is wildly popular these days.
I do think that the representations of road signage they have in their “artist concept” pictures (such as the one to the left) are a bit much.
They have LEDs built into the panels but there are only a handful, scattered across the panel (see below, right). In order to do high-res images such as depicted above, you’d need a LOT more lights (pixels).
But, I totally get it – artist concepts aren’t reality, they are just concepts. I think fundamentally this is a very interesting idea. One of the “features” of these hexagonal glass tiles is that you can replace an individual tile seamlessly. This would be really great as repairing asphalt is a lot less than seamless, and is a temporary fix at best. Potholes in asphalt are common and annoying. It seems that this technology would solve that problem too.
Even if they never made it to freeways, deploying them to driveways, parking lots and residential roads would really give some great benefits. They claim that in the winter, the roadway is heated. This is not to make it warm but to keep the surface temperature just high enough that falling snow would melt as it hits. It certainly would be nice not to have to shovel snow, or plow roads!
Check out this TED talk – it shows the history of the idea and where they are going with it.