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Transportation Technology

Glow-In-The-Dark Smart Highways Coming To the Netherlands In 2013 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the current-highways-suddenly-seem-stupid dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Netherlands is moving forward with plans to build 'smart' highways that can become more easily visible in the dark or communicate weather conditions to drivers. Work will begin as early as next year. 'Special paint will also be used to paint markers like snowflakes across the road's surface — when temperatures fall to a certain point, these images will become visible, indicating that the surface will likely be slippery. Roosegaarde says this technology has been around for years, on things like baby food — the studio has just up-scaled it. The first few hundred meters of glow in the dark, weather-indicating road will be installed in the province of Brabant in mid-2013, followed by priority induction lanes for electric vehicles, interactive lights that switch on as cars pass and wind-powered lights within the next five years.'"
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Glow-In-The-Dark Smart Highways Coming To the Netherlands In 2013

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:03PM (#41824247)

    but cautious corporate officials decided to wait for AOL Netscape's patent on the "blink" tag to expire.

  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by symes (835608) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:04PM (#41824263) Journal

    How will drivers see glow in the dark images when there is snow on the roads?

  • by parallel_prankster (1455313) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:09PM (#41824321)
    What happens when a really dirty set of tires goes over these markings on the road continuously? If they are not visible, will that lead to more accidents? It seems like a "smarter" thing to do would be to somehow network these highways electronically or using WiFi or something so that you can then use the computer in your car or smartphone to get very localized information about the conditions on the road on which you are driving.
    • Re:Dirt Proof? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 (705449) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:24PM (#41824509) Journal
      the point is that these coatings respond to surface conditions, rather than just local area averages. great for bridges and other areas which freeze first
    • Re:Dirt Proof? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arisvega (1414195) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:25PM (#41824515)

      What happens when a really dirty set of tires [..] network those highways [..] use the computer [..] smartphone ..

      Relax, this is about Europe: most people there with cars actually already know how to drive them.

      • What happens when a really dirty set of tires [..] network those highways [..] use the computer [..] smartphone ..

        Relax, this is about Europe: most people there with cars actually already know how to drive them.

        I know. Stuff like this can be hard to explain to people from a country where they actually ask if you can drive a car with a gearstick. I remember seeing an automatic in Europe once, and I thought "WTF is this?"

      • by parallel_prankster (1455313) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @07:41PM (#41825347)
        Really, then why the hell are these paintings being developed? Why don't Europeans just drive properly through the black snow shit! I am tired of the Europeans can drive nonsense. The US just has far more drivers and far more emphasis on driving a person vehicle as compared to other countries and hence it gets a bad name. The point of this article is not that, the point in making these improvements is to remove any human errors out of the equation. Now what is the best way to provide current weather conditions to the driver. By painting the roads or via some technology in their car??
        • Re:Dirt Proof? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @08:33PM (#41825833)

          The US just has far more drivers and far more emphasis on driving a person vehicle as compared to other countries and hence it gets a bad name.

          Given how much 'emphasis' you say we put on driving, you'd think we'd be better at it no?

          Have you been to Europe? In Germany, it takes literally almost 2 years to get your license. Driving school is that long and costs a couple thousand dollars if memory serves.

          Compare that to the US where everyone gets their license after 20 minutes test consisting of a K-turn and nothing over 45 mph. Who do you think turns out better drivers?

          People routinely fail driving tests in Europe, because driving really is a 'privilege' and they make it hard to earn.

          We on the other hand let damn near anyone drive.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Now what is the best way to provide current weather conditions to the driver. By painting the roads or via some technology in their car??

          By having the technology in the road. Not everyone trades their car in every year, and some of us smarter ones buy our vehicles used. Mine's ten years old, I'll retire it when repairs start costing more than a car payment.

          If this tech were on my roads today, it would make me safer. But if it only came on brand new BMWs I'm SOL.

          Also, I don't know how well or badly Europeans

    • Re:Dirt Proof? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by houghi (78078) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @07:02PM (#41824941)

      What happens when a really dirty set of tires goes over these markings on the road continuously?

      The same as happens with current signalization.
      I have never seen this to be an issue, so why would it be one now?

    • Perhaps you haven't been paying attention to actual driving currently. Roads already have lines and symbols on them that seem to stay pretty visible after literally billions of miles being driven over them by all manner of cars carrying all manner of dirt.
    • by khallow (566160)
      I'd be concerned about snowplows. Fancy markings get scrapped off pretty fast. OTOH, it'd be good for places that rarely see snow, which sounds like part of the target audience.
      • Yeah, must be a bitch with all those northern roads that no longer have any markings on them at all by spring...oh wait, we have lines that seem to last just fine now under heavy plowing.

        Besides, we're talking about 'paint' here, it's not like it's hard to reapply even if it does wear off in some spots.
  • by Nationless (2123580) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:18PM (#41824429)

    High friction surface which requires constant work and they want to paint it in temperature sensitive markings which will get covered in sot and worn down in a heartbeat? Prolonging any and all road maintenance.

    Why not just have a sign painted in the same material which does the same job, except you can actually see it a lot easier?

    I do like the idea of glow in the dark roads for increased visibility, but not for reading the temperature.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      High friction surface which requires constant work and they want to paint it in temperature sensitive markings which will get covered in sot and worn down in a heartbeat? Prolonging any and all road maintenance.

      Why not just have a sign painted in the same material which does the same job, except you can actually see it a lot easier?

      I do like the idea of glow in the dark roads for increased visibility, but not for reading the temperature.

      Because the sign 2 meters above the road surface is not at the same temperature as the road?

      If knowing the ambient temperature were sufficient, then it would be easier to have cars do the warning -- some cars already warn you when the outside temperature approaches freezing, but that still doesn't really tell you the temperature of the road surface.

      • by mrbester (200927)

        Then have sensors on the road. At the side, obviously, so they don't get smashed. The information is relayed to solar powered signs.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Then have sensors on the road. At the side, obviously, so they don't get smashed. The information is relayed to solar powered signs.

          Because that negates the "no maintenace" part that the previous poster was talking about?

          The linked to article shows these snowflakes painted every meter or so along the road. A single kilometer would have hundreds of them. Maintaining a network of hundreds of solar powered temperature sensors sounds a lot more labor intensive that repainting the temperature indicating snowflakes periodically when they restripe the roads.

          • by mrbester (200927)

            Repainting roads is a lot of effort and, unless they do it at low to zero traffic times (not here they don't), causes hassle for everybody. So it only gets done about once in ten years.

            Solar powered signs are low maintenance. There are hundreds on UK roads attached to speed radar sensors to annoy you as you approach (most seem to be set to go off even if you aren't speeding). Putting a SIM in them means they can call home so you know when one has failed. This stuff is *cheap* and just needs one guy in a van

            • by hawguy (1600213)

              Repainting roads is a lot of effort and, unless they do it at low to zero traffic times (not here they don't), causes hassle for everybody. So it only gets done about once in ten years.

              Solar powered signs are low maintenance. There are hundreds on UK roads attached to speed radar sensors to annoy you as you approach (most seem to be set to go off even if you aren't speeding). Putting a SIM in them means they can call home so you know when one has failed. This stuff is *cheap* and just needs one guy in a van that needn't block anybody with a toolkit and some spare parts.

              In my area they already paint lines on the road, so having another truck (or the same truck) paint the temperature sensitive snowflakes at the same time as they stripe the rest of the road doesn't sound like a whole lot more work for the government or inconvenience to other drivers.

              The road around here where I think this could be useful is about 50 km long up a mountain pass, heavily used by out-of-area skiers who have little winter driving experience - if they put these solar powered sensors every 10 meter

              • by mrbester (200927)

                This is in the Netherlands, not exactly known for mountains, passes or skiers. Cellular coverage is also excellent throughout the country due to the dearth of hills.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                In my area they already paint lines on the road, so having another truck (or the same truck) paint the temperature sensitive snowflakes at the same time as they stripe the rest of the road doesn't sound like a whole lot more work for the government or inconvenience to other drivers.

                The problem is that when you repaint them is that if you don't match the stencil up perfectly with the old stencil, you're going to have a bad time. Laying down a stencil and spraying it 5,000 times actually is going to take a bit of time and effort. Now, if the stencils could be laid down by a truck that was doing an imitation of an injket printer, maintenance would be fast and easy.

                If you're talking about putting in the sensors every km or so, then it might be more affordable, while also being less useful than the painted indicators since microclimates, shade from the sun, underroad culverts, etc) can make a big difference in road temperature even across short distances.

                Those "microclimates" shade and so on fall in known locations, and so that's where you put the sensor/light signs. Easy peasy

    • by houghi (78078)

      They are painting on the roads now. They will just use a different paint.

      And I would be very happy to know that the road is around 0C so I know to watch out for ice.

      Having that on the road, especially at night, will be a great addition to roadsigns. Why choose if you can have both?

      The snow part is not the nicest part. What I like is the glow in the dark lines. It could save a LOT of money in Belgium and other countries.

    • I do like the idea of glow in the dark roads for increased visibility, but not for reading the temperature.

      HAve you ever driven on clean black pavement in the rain at night, in a well-lit area?

      The reflections make it really hard to discern markings. I can only imagine that in the right circumstances, this will make it worse.

      • If only the paint could change the wavelength of the light, it would make it stand out more in the presence of reflected light. Wait, that's phosphorescence. Like glow in the dark paint.
        • And this will not itself reflect, adding more visual confusion?

          The problem I am referring to is not inability to discern the paint, but the fact of too much light already present. This will add more.

    • High friction surface which requires constant work and they want to paint it in temperature sensitive markings which will get covered in sot and worn down in a heartbeat? Prolonging any and all road maintenance.

      Why not just have a sign painted in the same material which does the same job, except you can actually see it a lot easier?

      I do like the idea of glow in the dark roads for increased visibility, but not for reading the temperature.

      Do you come from some country where there's no lane markings?

    • by mcvos (645701)

      We already have painted markings on our roads (lines mostly, but also the occasional arrow or speed limit), so that aspect isn't really anything new.

      Do you not have lines on your roads at all?

      • Not magical glow in the dark ones that can also display other information.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          So they'll be using a different paint. From a maintenance point of view it's nothing new. Assuming the paint does what it's supposed to do and is good enough to use on the road.

  • Great for tourism (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Beerdood (1451859)
    Now if the Netherlands would re-relax their laws concerning foreigners purchasing recreational drugs, I could really see a huge spike in tourism next year
  • by dccase (56453) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:26PM (#41824527)

    Our roads turn white to signal that it is snowing.

    • And what does it do when it hasn't snowed, the air temperature is above freezing, but random parts of the road is below freezing and there's a light drizzle?

      This tends to form a very localized phenomenon known as black ice - patches of road that look innocuous but are about as slippery as it gets.

    • Our roads stay the same colour when they're covered in ice.
  • by ehud42 (314607) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:44PM (#41824739) Homepage

    There's a stretch of highway by my place that has these really cool LED lights countersunk into the centre line that I'm sure were marketed as a great way to increase safety. The stretch of highway is a narrow 2 lane non-divided temporary by pass around a construction zone (major interchange being built to no where).

    The problem with these fancy LEDs is they are so dim that I actually find myself quite distracted trying to determine if they are in fact glowing. Had they gone with a much lower tech solution of putting countersunk reflectors, my headlights would have gladly lit up the centre line.

    Glow in the dark stickers, etc. only work when the surrounding area is really dark, otherwise there just isn't enough contrast.

    I hope this tech provides a significant visual contrast or else it will just be a distracting and annoying waste of money.

    • by houghi (78078)

      I hope this tech provides a significant visual contrast or else it will just be a distracting and annoying waste of money.

      I see it as the glow in the dark watches. During the day they are white. During the night they glow green.

      I also see this as an addition not a complete alternative, to other things.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The sunken botts' dots are a horrible fuckup anyway, because shit collects in them. They become less visible in the rain, and anything spilled on the highway will remain in them, gravel stops there, then people run over it at high speed and kick it up into the air, etc. You can tell that someone has found a way to steal some of your money when they are used.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @07:04PM (#41824955)

    What are the "priority induction lanes for electric vehicles"? Do they inductively charge electric vehicles? Are they toll lanes to pay for the electricity?

    • Re:Inductive lanes? (Score:4, Informative)

      by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @07:32PM (#41825229) Homepage
      Apparently it's the former: here [popsci.com]
    • by Judebert (147131)

      Although they're not on the slate for next year. :(

  • I hope they're not going to try to patent this.
    Fukushima and Pripyat already have glow in the dark roads!

    Thanks. I'll be here all week. Or at least until management kicks me out.....

  • disappointed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @08:47PM (#41825941) Homepage Journal

    The first few hundred meters of glow in the dark, weather-indicating road will be installed in the province of Brabant in mid-2013, followed by priority induction lanes for electric vehicles, interactive lights that switch on as cars pass and wind-powered lights within the next five years.

    Those socialist hell-holes get all the good stuff.

    But we'll have the last laugh when the US becomes one big Foxconn dormitory, because we'll still have our liberty.

    • by Issarlk (1429361)
      They get the good stuff first in this case, but just wait: glow in the dark gravel roads are comming soon to the USA. Take that, dirty commies!
    • by Barryke (772876)

      Those socialist hell-holes get all the good stuff.

      I am dutch and i do not get your sarcasm.

  • So someone invents an alien shape-shifting (OK I exaggerate, color-shifting) technology, and the first use we think of is to put it in babyfood?

  • Like, nobody's suggested markers that light up when there are zombies ahead?

    Or (good luck with this one), markers that respond to cars passing over them (like the in-pavement triggers for left-turn lights) by lighting up for the next 3 seconds to indicate to the next driver that he's driving too dang close to the car in front of him.

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