Thursday Salute to Originals: Not Street Smart, Smart Streets!

Cars and their technology are constantly evolving. Though we’re not zipping around in spaceships quite yet, with all the futuristic features available today, it often seems like vehicles aren’t far from morphing into something straight out of the Jetsons. But while there are constant advancements within the vehicles themselves, not much attention has been paid to the paved blacktopped strips on which they maneuver. Until now that is.

Daan Roosengaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure have teamed up, taking on a different approach to the future of travel. Instead of focusing on what we’ll be driving, they have taken a step back to consider what we’ll be driving on. In analyzing how a driving surface can impact and improve the commuting experience, they’ve opened a new dialogue on how we can design our streets to be smarter and more sustainable.

By implementing relatively simple and universal concepts – things like visual cues of light and color – Roosegaarde believes that we can make roads “smart,” where they can actively adapt and respond to driving and traffic conditions, and then communicate that information to drivers.

For example, utilizing a type of glow-in-the-dark medium to line the roads could potentially increase safety at night as the glow would help outline and predict the curvature of the roadway.

Or a dynamic paint that changes with temperature and weather conditions could be used to visually signify hazardous driving conditions to commuters.

We’ll admit, our modern highways are still miles away from the dirt paths that once used for travel. But now, after seeing these concepts for smarter streets, we can’t help but wonder – why didn’t anyone consider this before? We’re guessing it might be a simple case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Thanks to Daan Roosengaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure for this fresh perspective on the future of travel, and for (inadvertently) reminding us to take a step back from the details and maintain an open mind and broad perspective.

Image credits: Studio Roosegaarde