Solar panels on homes are cool, but there’s a company hoping to bring them mainstream to, let’s say, some roads more traveled… like, roads. All of them. In an initiative they say will help wean us off of our fossil fuel dependency and cut greenhouse gases by 75% (+ offer a whole bunch of “extras” to pave a very sweet way to a happier planet) Solar Roadways is taking their vision of solar panel power to the streets with an Indiegogo goal of raising one million bucks.
As the cute couple behind the modular system points out, a lot has changed since they met when they were kiddies in the ‘60s — but our roads for the most part, have not. They’re proposing a whole new vision for the infrastructure that would smarten up the streets for our increasingly intelligent, even self-driving vehicles, plus give electric cars a place to juice up besides the pump.
Using as many recycled materials as they can to construct them, the solar panels are made of super strong, textured, tempered glass. Yes, the thought of driving on glass freaks us out a little too, but the panels have been subjected to traction, load testing and impact resistant testing and were literally driven on by tractors to prove their strength. No, really.
Under each panel of glass, dark rectangular solar cells sit on green circuit boards with intelligent microprocessors. Embedded LED lights can illuminate in all different patterns to light up roads at night, warn drivers about upcoming dangers or even designate handicapped and motorcycle spots in parking lots as they’re needed. At an amusement parks, solar walkways could light up with information about rides or which trail to take. On sidewalks, they could borrow some of Transitscreen’s vision of providing directions, weather and up-to-date public transportation times for pedestrians. Heating elements inside the panels would ensure roads stayed ice-and-snow-free during winter.
Cable corridors on either side of the roadways would replace the need for overhead cables and make Solar Roadways the new Smart Grids. Where one side would stash electric and fiber optic internet cables, the other side would store, treat and move stormwater to cut down on pollution and send clean H2O to treatment centers and drought-stricken areas in emergencies.
Smart roads will pave the ways for self-driving vehicles and allow infrastructure so that electric cars or bikes could be charged by the sun instead of fossil fuels at the gas pump. On a massive scale (think coast-to-coast) Solar Roadways says that they could provide more energy than our country would even use. That’s some seriously good news for the planet. And they’re definitely aiming high with plans to raise a million smackers by May 31, but we have faith. They’ve already received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal High Administration. Visit their campaign (PS — nice redesign, Indiegogo!) to find out more about the roads we hope pave a very bright future.
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