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Futuristic Highway Will Glow In the Dark For Icy Conditions

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the light-it-up dept.

Transportation 174

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Will Oremus reports that a glow-in-the-dark highway will be installed in the Netherlands that will replace standard road markings with photoluminescent powder that charges in the daylight and glows through the night for up to 10 hours. But the new highway's most interesting feature is when the temperature drops below freezing, the road will automatically light up with snowflake indicators to warn drivers of icy conditions (video). 'One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave,' says designer Daan Roosegaarde. 'I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.' The first few hundred meters of glow-in-the-dark, weather-indicating road will be installed in the province of Branbant 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. 'Research on smart transportation systems and smart roads has existed for over 30 years — call any transportation and infrastructure specialist and you'll find out yourself,' adds Emina Sendijarevick. 'What's lacking is the implementation of those innovations and making those innovations intuitive and valuable to the end-consumers — drivers.'"

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174 comments

Freezy Freakies (4, Funny)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503755)

I had gloves that did that back in the 1970's.

Glad to finally see a more practical use for this 50 year old technology.

Re:Freezy Freakies (0)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503849)

This is very similar to the comments the last time this exact story was on slashdot. Also, it is a waste of money.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503891)

I think it's a great idea. You can't tell where black ice patches are, so maybe it'll help out by indicating High Risk areas.

Re:Freezy Freakies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503895)

Well.. it's only a waste of money because assholes like you won't actually slow down and be safe during icy conditions.

asshat...

Re:Freezy Freakies (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503933)

Meh, I wouldn't say a waste. There are some roads I've been on that I actually wish the white-lines would glow in the dark. Roads without street lights with (sometimes) more dangerous conditions (curves and such). Of course, some of these roads make me wish for that, because the lines are starting to wear away so it's hard to see... and a plain re-paint might just solve that.

As for showing when freezing conditions are in effect, I guess if they're going to go re-paint with glow-in-the-dark, this isn't a complete waste. And particularly only certain bad stretches of road.

Not all people have an "exterior temperature" reading on their car nor do they care to check. If some roads (like bridges) are more susceptible to freezing, or are insanely dangerous when freezing such as a specific stretch that has 10x the accidents of the average iced road, then it could help a little.

Meanwhile, it would help make the association for drivers that "something is not normal" and adjust their driving habits. Here in NJ, we have people that don't realize how bad road conditions are so they drive just as wild as when the roads are pristine. Which, I guess wouldn't be insane if you have the skills to back it up or are used to it because you live in an area where this is common-place. But they don't, so you see cars and SUVs doing the "idiot dance" across the road because they don't know any better. If you can make that visual association in their heads (ice + roads == bad) maybe it could reduce it.

Personally, I drive fine but I also drive careful when conditions warrant it.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504013)

Not all people have an "exterior temperature" reading on their car nor do they care to check. If some roads (like bridges) are more susceptible to freezing, or are insanely dangerous when freezing such as a specific stretch that has 10x the accidents of the average iced road, then it could help a little.

If it's only an exterior temperature indicator, it's almost useless. They light up as soon as the temperature is below 4 degrees, so I have a permanent ice warning from October to March. A calendar would serve the same purpose.

Re:Freezy Freakies (4, Interesting)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504093)

My previous car, it would "ding" and take up the whole radio/gps screen whenever the temperature dipped below 35F. And it would stay there for like 30 seconds during which time I couldn't see or use the touch screen (see the map, change the station to one of my favorites, etc). Normally, this wasn't so bad.. just slightly annoying.

EXCEPT when the temperature would be right AROUND 35F. Because between wind, my engine heat, etc. the temperature might fluxuate between 35F and 36F constantly. So thing would "ding" and take up my screen every could of minutes. And I couldn't turn the feature off.

Sure, you might be thinking "how often is the temperature right around 35F" I thought the same thing the first time it repeated... but apparently it's more common in NJ than you'd think.

My current car just has the exterior temperate. It does NOT warn me about the presence of ice nor does it "ding"

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504649)

My dad's car did this each time he started it during winter season.

My guess is that that behaviour only exists to add "ice warning" to the car's feature list without adding additional hardware (if temperature sensor is already factored in)

And one of the most annoying side effects is when you just shoveled your car out of the snow (or just spent 2 minutes scratching ice from the windshield - that's enough) and THEN hear that "Ding - it MIGHT be freezing".... "I KNOW THAT FOR SURE YOU %&!#ING %#*!"

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504753)

My car has a temperature reading in the console display, next to the current radio station and time of day. When the temperature is between +3 C and -3 C, the temperature reading blinks slowly. It is noticable enough that you see it, but not disturbing. Safety features such as this is one of the things that should be standardized across all cars (like child seat mounting points are) IMHO.

Re:Freezy Freakies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505281)

Please tell me what kind of car that is, so that I never ever buy one by accident. If they get the simple stuff wrong in hilarious ways, there's a very good chance they get the hard stuff wrong in deadly ways. The car sounds like a death trap.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504149)

The white lines do glow in the dark when your headlights hit them, that's why they're reflective.

Unfortunately, this reflectivity is the first thing to wear off, long before the line itself becomes hard to see in daylight.

So they issue here isn't that we need a brand-new glowing material, it's that we need bigger budgets for road maintenance.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

jetole (1242490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504361)

I've seen this in New York (years ago the last time I visited) and it's almost everywhere where I live now in South Florida from the Florida Keys to at least West Palm Beach and likely beyond. We have these little plastic reflective mounts spaced regularly on the road / lanes to show the lines and at the same time it creates a light thumping as you drive over them to provide tactile feedback that your changing lanes. They are about 2 inches by two inches, reflect white on one side and red on the other so you can see red on them for the oncoming traffic lanes and white on the lanes you drive in (just based on which direction they mount them on the road). They work great. They have been around forever. The glow in the dark paint seems like it would be re-inventing the wheel here. I just got back from visiting Toronto where I grew up and I wish they had them there as these really help with night driving, lane identification, etc even where there are no street lights.

Re:Freezy Freakies (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504413)

There is a reason they are not found in Northern areas. Snowplows would tear them right off. Also they would be totally useless when snow covers them.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

jetole (1242490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504429)

Good point at the snow plows but wouldn't glow in the dark paint be equally useless when snow covers them?

Re:Freezy Freakies (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504777)

I think the point of the glow-in-the-dark "snowflake" is for when conditions are icy... without the snow on the ground. Obviously, if snow is on the ground... that's enough warning for "there may be ice"

It happens a fair amount in certain areas: either with freezing rain, 40F rain during the day following by an evening of 28F temperatures. I imagine the mild-afternoon w/ rain followed by the freezing evening is the bigger issue as a person might think that it's still too warm for ice based on the mild temperatures during their lunch break.

Here in NJ it happens quite a bit, which is of course "fun" when people don't realize it and skid through traffic lights into the middle of an intersection of drive into someone's lawn because they went too fast on a curve.

Re:Freezy Freakies (3, Informative)

der_joachim (590045) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504835)

Please note that in the Netherlands, it rarely snows more than a few centimeters. Most of that snow is tackled by road salt. Furthermore, what does happen, is rain or sleet freezing up the roads, resulting in black ice which is almost invisible in the dark. Normally, I shun warning labels instead of prudent driving, but this idea is IMHO pretty nifty.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504697)

We have a similar thing in Norway, and it's not a problem with the snowplows. We just make them a lot taller, about 5 feet I think. They actually serve a dual purpose, as they also show the snowplows where the road is. They are the best solution to this problem, bar none. (Yes, it has actually happened after a major snowfall that snowplows have misjudged where the road is going and gone of straight into the middle of a field.)

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504823)

Some places here in NJ do the same thing, though normally private property like parking lots but I've seen them on the occasional public road. Though perhaps those were just home owners doing it themselves because they were sick of plows messing up their curbs.

Flexible orange poles get stuck near the curb so the plows no where their edges are and don't destroy a curb / sidewalk / etc.

Though since we don't get the "epic" snow in my area that other states or countries get, the poles are usually only 3 feet / 1 meter tall.

If they were "everywhere" then at least that would show where the edges of the road are. Unfortunately, it wouldn't help with the middle line or with multi-lane roads.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504915)

How does that work with multiple lanes? Or are they just on the sides of the roads?

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505075)

They're just on the sides of the roads. But almost all multiple-lane (and by that I mean >1 lane going in each direction) roads here have good streetlights and central+side barriers.

Re:Freezy Freakies (2)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504945)

We have a similar thing in Norway, and it's not a problem with the snowplows. We just make them a lot taller, about 5 feet I think. They actually serve a dual purpose, as they also show the snowplows where the road is. They are the best solution to this problem, bar none. (Yes, it has actually happened after a major snowfall that snowplows have misjudged where the road is going and gone of straight into the middle of a field.)

Your confusing side-of-road reflectors (i.e. reflectors on each side of the road to mark where the pavement ends) with embedded reflectors in the pavement where the center lines are located. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raised_pavement_marker [wikipedia.org]

My thought is that the glow-in-the-dark paint will be more expensive than the standard line marking paint. It's hard enough for most communities here in the Northeast US to find the budget for the normal paint, which wears off each winter due to winter salting and sanding. I don't hold out any hope for this coming to a road near me any time soon.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

dryeo (100693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505747)

Here the reflective markers are sunken so plows don't hurt them. They help the most when it's raining which it does a lot here.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

BattleApple (956701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505751)

I live in New England and we do have them. They're either recessed into the road, or have a metal case designed to withstand snowplows. Although, they do come up every once in a while. A few years ago, a woman in Ohio was hit in the face with a 4.5 lb reflector one after a plow dislodged it

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504971)

Well, reflect instead of glow. But yeh, which is why I put in that bit about the ones that I think need it are the ones that are already starting to wear away and would probably be fixed with just a new coat of the regular paint.

I agree with the maintenance bit. But the roads (by me) lack in maintenance in general. If they can't get their act together to plug in the axel-destroying pot holes for a long time... I can't see them running to repaint the lines that have started to wear away.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505359)

The white lines do glow in the dark when your headlights hit them, that's why they're reflective.

So does the water covering them when it's raining. The latest I've seen is to have a black square painted around the white stripe, and that seems to help a lot with visibility in rain. The reflective bumps jetole mentioned are most helpful, but what happens is that the stripes aren't painted where they used the bumps, and the bumps come loose after a few months of people hitting them to hear the noise.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505455)

Let me rephrase. All of the comments last time were that this is old tech, or a waste of money. You can read them for yourself, it was almost 30 days ago.
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/10/30/2055259/glow-in-the-dark-smart-highways-coming-to-the-netherlands-in-2013 [slashdot.org]

Re:Freezy Freakies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504333)

This is very similar to the comments the last time this exact story was on slashdot. Also, it is a waste of money.

Actually the ROI is pretty short on those things.
Road maintenance is typically the kind of thing you want to use tax money on and the benefits goes to increased productivity.
Good road temperature indication will make it possible for drivers to drive faster in cases where the road isn't cold instead of having to assume that it is cold everywhere, if you save one minute travel time for thousands of persons thats is a pretty large boost in productivity. If you prevent just a single person from driving off the road you again save a lot of time and money.

Re:Freezy Freakies (1)

dnahelicase (1594971) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504851)

Also, it is a waste of money.

Of all the things that money is completely wasted on, this doesn't seem like one of them.

Sure, it might not be necessary, but it could be useful. If roads are being rebuilt anyway, the cost can't be that much greater given the size and scope of building roads. It seems like this would be useful when going around curves and helping to see where the road is when it is not directly in front of you, as would already be illuminated by your headlights.

I've always wished that they would spend a little money on developing some of these technologies. With little incremental cost we could do some cool things when rebuilding roads, like experimenting with power distribution, conduits for fiber runs, etc. It never makes sense to redo roads to put these in, and it's too expensive to build test roads, but if the cost isn't that great we could do a lot of experimenting when we're making new ones.

Re:Freezy Freakies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504929)

We can't get streetlights here on most of the roads here in Georgia, even in the city of Atlanta. So I approve of anything to help drivers see and not die on the roads.

Re:Freezy Freakies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505649)

Hypercolor shirts. I wish I still had mine.

Waste of time/money. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503801)

How is this going to be more visible than the highly reflective paint that is already used?
Many cars already notify you if icy conditions are likely to exist, snowflakes seem redundant.
Neither will be very visible when covered with snow and ice.

Re:Waste of time/money. (1)

dintech (998802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503883)

So you can tail people with your lights off like in the movies. Because that's not conspicuous, oh no...

Re:Waste of time/money. (1)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503991)

This idea does have that "solution looking for a problem" feel to it, doesn't it? Glow-in-the-dark road markings would be nice, but in the part of the UK where I live, they seem to have trouble managing the basics like fixing pot-holes and re-profiling dangerous bends. I'd much rather they got on top of that stuff first, pothole-free roads would be plenty futuristic enough for me.

Re:Waste of time/money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504099)

No, this isn't a solution looking for a problem. The guy is an professional artist, not an engineer. It's art pretending to be a solution, looking for a non-problem.

The claimed location isn't too weird, though. Brabant is indeed a testlab for car & road R they even have an isolated stretch of highway (A270) set up as a medium-scale lab complete with camera coverage. Some of the other "ideas" , in particular signs that turn that turn green when you approach, are already productized. So that's why the story looks convincing: it's surrounded by reasonable details.

BTW: Dutch roads don't have potholes. The one exception I encountered only existed because the road would be fully rebuilt within a year anyway.

Re:Waste of time/money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504487)

How is this going to be more visible than the highly reflective paint that is already used?
Many cars already notify you if icy conditions are likely to exist, snowflakes seem redundant.
Neither will be very visible when covered with snow and ice.

It will be more usefull than the highly reflective paint when the road is not straight.

Inductive field (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503809)

Is the inductive field on only when an electric car is nearby? Has human experimentation been done to see the potential health impacts?

Re:Inductive field (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504175)

What potential health impacts?

This is not ionizing, nor are you going to generate a lethal current in a human body. Go away nutter.

Or.... (1)

FarField12 (2804063) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503831)

Or my car could sense tire traction, temperature and a few other sensor conditions to tell me this on the
big display. Oh wait, it does that now!

Re:Or.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503971)

Except that
- this is available for all drivers, and not only the ones that have such sensors.
- this is able to indicate local condition. Your car will not tell you that on a particular zone of the road (forest), the conditions are OK for icing, whereas it was not 200 meters before. Or it will tell you when its traction sensor are indicating that you are slidding.

Re:Or.... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504279)

Except that this will also not do that. It only tells you the road is below 0C. It does tell you if it is covered with ice.
AKA yea it is bloody cold out and now I have cute glow in the dark snowflakes to remind me.
It will be ignored soon enough because it is an indication of data you already have.

Re:Or.... (5, Informative)

bmajik (96670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504001)

Your car actually doesn't do this in a sufficient sense.

When a road surface is rainy or icy, braking and steering response suffer the most. Acceleration is impacted somewhat.

A common scenario here in North Dakota is that you set your cruise control and are moving along. Everything "feels fine". You go to change lanes or hit the brakes and you realize you are on a low-grip surface. If you know how to handle it you can sometimes make it ok. If you don't, you're in the ditch.

Your car can tell if a wheel starts to spin when under acceleration. But acceleration is the least impacted vehicle input in poor road conditions.

Your car can tell if the motion vector exceeds a certain threshhold and isn't lining up with the steering angle sensor (e.g. a slide is happening)

What your car cannot tell you is that the road conditions have degraded to the point that you need to slow down, and to what speed, to have proper turning and braking capability. All your car can do is respond to loss-of-grip situations that have already happened.

When I drive in unknown conditions I will frequently oscillate the steering wheel and feel how much resistance there is. Less resistance suggests less grip. I'll also ease on to the brake pedal to see if I can induce ABS, to help me understand where the braking limit is.

(Remember, this is north dakota, so there's no one else around for me to upset or scare when I do this stuff :))

I run snow tires on all my winter-driven vehicles. I cannot tell you the number of times I've been driving along the interstate, everything has been fine, and I come over a crest, and there are vehicles in the ditch everywhere. I provide test brake/steering inputs and there is _very little_ grip to be had. Anything other than the slightest/slowest input provokes loss-of-grip. And this is on proper snow tires. The people with bald all-seasons are in the ditch for a reason..

A current car simply can't detect that until you're already sliding/skidding/spinning tires. At which point, it may be too late for the car to recover on a low-grip surface.

Re:Or.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505411)

But acceleration is the least impacted vehicle input in poor road conditions.

Acceleration is no different from any other application of wheel friction to change the velocity or direction. Most people tend to brake harder than they accelerate, and all vehicles can brake much harder than they can accelerate, but that doesn't mean an icy surface affects acceleration any differently than it affects braking, just that the latter often attempts to apply greater force than the former. Same force == same result, regardless of whether it's being applied for acceleration or braking.

That's So Awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503865)

I'm gonna file this right next top my flying car edition of popular mechanics!

Ain't gonna happen. Welcome to Monday on Slashdot

Repost (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503905)

You're absolutely useless, aren't you Slashdot?
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/10/30/2055259/glow-in-the-dark-smart-highways-coming-to-the-netherlands-in-2013 [slashdot.org]

You even link to articles on the same site, just one is .com and the first is .co.uk. They were even published on the same day.
That day being October 30th. Over 2 months ago. I think that would be considered "old" by any standard.

Re:Repost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503939)

Who are you writing to ? You really think there are humans at Slashdot to read this ? Ha !

Re:Repost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505041)

Who are you writing to ? You really think there are humans at Slashdot to read this ? Ha !

I don't think it was a computer that decided to misspell "Brabant" in the summary this time around although it was correct the first time. Not that there is a province by that name in the Netherlands anyway; presumably "North Brabant" (Noord Brabant) was meant--Brabant is in Belgium.

And the cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42503947)

How much will it cost? How long will it last? Can you see the difference with your headlights on?

Very little incentive to innovate (0)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503959)

I'm not trying to insert a discussion of the pros and cons of the government making and maintaining roads, but simply trying to state that governments have very little, if any, incentive to improve roads, improve the safety of roads or use new innovative techniques. It usually takes a crisis before new things get implemented. Under normal circumstances they have very little incentive to continually raise the bar and wow the user (all of us) of the roads.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504097)

I'm going to guess you're in the U.S. ... road management in the Netherlands is done a bit differently.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504161)

TFA claims that government is not involved and the " Heijmans" company would build the road. That said, the Dutch road authority is actually quite innovative. They probably beat even then Germans when it comes to quality, e.g. see their use of low-noise/high drainage "ZOAB" road surfaces. Now, if only they'd actually bother with quantity...

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504259)

I'm not trying to insert a discussion of the pros and cons of the government making and maintaining roads, but simply trying to state that governments have very little, if any, incentive to improve roads, improve the safety of roads...

Emergency responders (police, fire rescue, etc.) for an accident cost county and state governments a lot. As does rebuilding damaged signs, light poles, and other road structures. Road closures due to accidents and constructions impact the local economy; if they're frequent enough, they'll generate political pressure. Particularly in rural areas, the state of the roads is one of the primary things that drives voters to choose one lizard over the other.

or use new innovative techniques. It usually takes a crisis before new things get implemented. Under normal circumstances they have very little incentive to continually raise the bar and wow the user (all of us) of the roads.

As well it should be. My first thought was, "Interesting, but sounds kind of half-baked." I'm glad the Netherlands is taking the lead on studying this, and I'm sure the rest of the world will gladly watch to see if the results justify the cost.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504265)

While this might hold true in the USA, it is not universal.

This is why Americans should travel more. For one I think all Americans should try driving on some nice German roads. Maybe we could start building them here.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504425)

The German sign system is amazing. The German road system, less so. One doesn't so much drive on the roads around Stuttgart as wait for the traffic to clear.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504889)

Get outside the city, the roads are nearly flat as glass compared to my usual haunts.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (3, Funny)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504917)

We could build German roads in the U.S. but the cost to then ship those roads to Germany would be prohibitive.
YMMV

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

heypete (60671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505115)

I've found the autobahns outside of Munich to be comparable to most US Interstates, though I actually preferred the Interstates in regards to maintenance and road quality. The autobahn had a bunch of patches to fill potholes and obviously hadn't been repaved in years, though that may well have been an exception rather than the norm.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505301)

I would say that is better than the roads I normally travel on. They have just a bunch of potholes. When they do repave they just scrape up the old and lay new down. Never fixing the underlying problems that caused the potholes so they can do it all again very soon.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505477)

Is autobahn maintenance done by the states or the federal government? I haven't driven around Germany a great deal, but I've noticed some variation in the road quality which seems regional. It wouldn't be surprising if, say, Bavaria and Schwabia, took different approaches to road maintenance.

That is what happens in the US, so in some states the Interstates are much better-maintained than in others. The US federal government provides some funding for Interstate maintenance, but much of it comes from the states, and the states do all of the actual work (or contract it out).

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504481)

I've heard a story that a new type of pavement was designed with a little bit of rubber in it so it lasts longer. However, road paving unions rejected it because that means they'd do less work.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (1)

zmooc (33175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504535)

In the Netherlands, highways are more than cost-effective; taxes on cars generate more income than the highways cost. On top of that, their economic benefits far outweigh their costs as well. Traffic jams cost about 1% of the total budget of the dutch government in productivity losses. Add to that the prevented medical costs due to safe, modern, well maintained roads and I see more than enough incentive to properly maintain roads. Which is exactly what happens.

However, the Netherlands is one of the more densely populated western countries with relatively little highway per capitae; the US has more than 3 times as much kilometers of highway per capita as the Netherlands does. Therefore possibly the current level of maintenance on US highways actually is the most cost effective. The more roads you have, the less well maintained they will be.

Re:Very little incentive to innovate (3, Interesting)

Reemi (142518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504563)

Some governments consider roads as critical for their competitive position. Without a good road-network, the Netherlands would loose their position as transport country and the work generated by the Rotterdam Harbor would dry up.

Accidents cause road-blocks which cause traffic jams. Hundreds of people in traffic jams idling costs enormous amounts of lost productivity and is bad for GDP.

With a social system ensuring everybody for health-case and a decent life standard when not able to work, avoiding accidents becomes an economical question.

I'm not stating the government does take all this into account, but at least the importance of a good and safe road-network for the whole country is understood.

Note, roads are not only there for those driving a car. Even if you do your groceries walking, ask yourself how your food ended up at the store. Ask yourself how the Ambulance managed to come to you when you need it.

I-64 has had something like this for years (5, Informative)

drcln (98574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504017)

In the U.S. state of Virginia, Interstate 64 runs east–west through the middle of the state from West Virginia to the Hampton Roads region, a total of 298 miles (480 km). It is notable for crossing the mouth of the harbor of Hampton Roads on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the first bridge-tunnel to incorporate man-made islands. Also noteworthy is a section through Rockfish Gap, a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which was equipped with an innovative system of airport-style runway lighting embedded into the pavement to aid motorists during periods of poor visibility due to fog or other conditions.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_64_in_Virginia [wikipedia.org]

A lighting system within the pavement to help designate lanes automatically activated by fog sensors was installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to improve safety during such weather conditions.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockfish_Gap [wikipedia.org]

yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504027)

The snowflake part is stupid. I can tell when it's below freezing out. But lines that glow? Awesome. Ever driven a Ford Ranger? I have a better headlight on my bicycle.

Re:yes (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504501)

So, get better headlights, stupid. If you're lucky, the bulbs are just growing dim, and you can replace them easily and cheaply. If you're unlucky, the reflective layer inside the bulb housings are oxidized and flaking. You can replace those for ~$75 to ~$125 each. If it were just YOUR life at risk, I wouldn't care. But, when you crash due to poor visibility, you're likely to take a pedestrian out.

I just double checked with my son. A set of Depo Performance Lights for a Camry runs right at $200. He also bought a pair of newfangled reflector bulbs to put into those light housings - his total bill was ~$300.

Re:yes (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504859)

For $300 you should get this [rigidindustries.com] instead. They give A LOT more light than any stock lights, no matter how shiny your reflector is. Of course, you should have decent low beams for when you meet traffic, but when you're talking high beams, go for some nice leds that you'll never have to replace. (I'm not affiliated with linked product, I just like them.)

Re:yes (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505031)

LED lights are great for a lot of uses, but headlights aren't yet on of the best uses. It's best to use LED's as a supplement to your headlights, not as a replacement. Maybe in a few more years, they'll be up to snuff. Complaints I've heard are that they just don't reach down the road.

Auxiliary lights, like these AngelEyes http://www.superbrightleds.com/cat/led-headlight-accent-lights/ [superbrightleds.com] make you a lot more visible to other drivers, they tend to light up unlit areas close to you, but they do almost nothing to illuminate the road more than 30 feet in front of you.

At present, HID lights are the best you can do - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlamp [wikipedia.org]

And, I'm not solely voicing my own opinion here - as a member of a couple of motorcycle forums, I've found this to be the consensus. As I say, two, five, maybe ten years from now, LED will be ready to replace all of our halogen and xenon lights. They are not ready today.

I wonder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504087)

What happens to a wind powered system when the wind goes to doldrums? How about multipower systems. You know, battery, solar, fossil fuel, coal, all working together to energize the future. Putting all your eggs in one basket leads to failure. Eventually, the sky will be cloudy, the wind will die for a week, and the storm will knock down the power lines. And the poor will have to pay thru the nose for your product.

Silly question... (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504089)

... but wouldn't honking great images of snowflakes on the ground rushing towards you (and then underneath your car) not be rather distracting?

Why the ice indicators? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504135)

I have a great ice indicator at home; They're called eyes. If I have to defrost my car in the morning, the roads could be icy. If there was recently slow or heavy rain, the roads could be very icy. In both conditions, I will drive slower and in a higher gear than normal, will use the brakes very sparingly and start decelerating earlier, and will leave a much longer gap between my car and the car in front.

Queue cries of "The ice indicator didn't show that there was ice on the road, so I did 60MPH around that blind bend. I'm not liable!" and a hefty hike in insurance premiums.

Re:Why the ice indicators? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504235)

Yet all of those indicators could fail and still I will see ice on my commute. I should also mention my commute is under 10 miles. All it takes is a little snow melt during the middle of the day and there can be ice on the road but none on my car, not any rain. Your eyes are also quite useless when dealing this refrozen dirty slush.

Re:Why the ice indicators? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504475)

I perhaps could have been clearer. " If there was recently slow or heavy rain, the roads could be very icy." By this I mean that, regardless of whether I can see snow, ice, or melt water, I will treat the road as icy. Having ridden over wet manhole covers on a scooter in my youth, and been involved in a rear-end collision due to "black ice" on the road, I have much respect for slippery road conditions and am well aware of how invisible a hazard it can be.

Re:Why the ice indicators? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504725)

Then you would have to treat the roads as icy for 4-6 months in many places. Which is not a bad thing, just a bit much for us to expect everyone to do without fail.

Coors Light - been there, done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504173)

This highway is "Cold Certified"

Re:Coors Light - been there, done that (1)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504291)

I wonder if the light is strong enough to be seen through snow, when real winter comes... this is one of the main highways in Northern Finland right now: http://www2.liikennevirasto.fi/alk/kelikamerat/C1452301071554.jpg [liikennevirasto.fi]

More real-time webcams of roads there, they're all similar, with entire road surface covered in snow: http://www2.liikennevirasto.fi/alk/english/kelikamerat/kelikamerat_5.html [liikennevirasto.fi]

Re:Coors Light - been there, done that (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504329)

Looks like much of the USA in winter. Maybe not everyday, but at least several times a week.

Re:Coors Light - been there, done that (2)

Njovich (553857) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504411)

Surely not. In such conditions they will neither collect enough light nor shine *that* brightly. Then again, you don't need an indicator to tell you it's cold when there is snow on the road. In Netherlands the problem is usually with temperatures that keep jumping up and down just over and under melting/freezing temperature, sometimes making roads treacherous. Winter temperatures here are a bit higher than in northern Finland of course.

As for the lanes, it's an improvement over normal paint... but nothing magic.

We cannot have nice things (1)

Korruptionen (2647747) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504185)

Unfortunately... if they had this feature in the US on any roadway... instantly, I could see people crashing their cars... and suing the state because they "couldn't see the snow flakes." :-|

Experement (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504189)

It looks like all that has been approved is a short experimental section. If the paint has not been proven to be able to hold up under real conditions I doubt very much that anyone would approve a full scale implementation on all roads. How do the markings hold up to wear, salt, plows, etc? It appears that this testing is what is approved.

It would also seem that one would get many false positives. From the article the markings glow when the roads are cold. Slippery roads are not necessarily caused by cold alone. It needs to be cold and wet or humid to get slippery conditions. Cold and dry conditions do not cause slippery roads. Another point is that if the temperature is always below the threshold the road will always glow and people will ignore it.

Sounds extremely expensive for little gain (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504201)

1. The wind powered lights will require power lines for backup for when the wind isn't enough. You could add batteries into the mix but you will have still need the power lines and then have to maintain the batteries.
2. The glow in the dark road markings will wear off. Is the safe for the eviroment?
3.The glow in the dark road markings will be more expensive than the paint we use now. BTW current paint reflect a lot of light. Since cars have lights why make the roads markings glow?
4. Inductive charging roads? How much copper will that take?

All that money would be better spent on making sure all roads have reflective markings and maybe an AM radio based system of road condition warnings, digital data of course.

I have become convinced people come up with engineering scams. You come up with some really cool sounding or looking idea that has a lot of issues and extremely high costs. You then make nice presentations, you then get people saying, "this is cool", and then you get money to study the "problems" and build nothing or a small useless test system. Kind of like a cool picture of a bridge that had windmills under the roadway. It would have been expensive, a bad bridge, and a bad windmill.
 

Re:Sounds extremely expensive for little gain (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504323)

I can see some limited use for point one in disaster situations - if the hurricane/earthquake has knocked out power, it'd be very useful for the road lights to stay lit for a couple of days so people can still travel safely while repairs are made. I don't see any advantage in glow-in-the-dark over the current retroreflector tech, and inductive charging on roads anywhere beside parking bays is just silly.

Road Lights (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504565)

My car has this rather advanced system. Once it becomes dark outside, I simply pull a little knob on the dashboard and an integral lighting system is activated, illuminating the road, pedestrians and other obstacles ahead of me.

Not the best (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504215)

Let's look at this simply. New system in road = new system cost * miles of road. Paid by government. Smarter cars and driver education work regardless of whether the road is smart and the cost (and as mentioned above the liability) rest on the car owner not the government.

Re:Not the best (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504303)

If you are speaking of the USA, we can't possibly to do that. We cannot even get a real license test and requirements. Step 1 to improve road safety in the USA would be stringent testing and education requirements. Step 2 would be to bring our roads up to a first world standard instead of the third world asphalt over stone only a couple feet deep we do now.

Article errors *sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504469)

The province of "Branbant" does not exist.

It's called "Noord Brabant" (note the lack of 'n').

Great, even more light pollution. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504485)

I so miss seeing stars...

hand-holding idiocy (4, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504519)

I live in Wisconsin. We have a nickname for anyone whose car goes in the ditch on the highway during a big snowstorm: morons. It's always some piece of crap minivan or Saturn Ion or Pontiac of some sort. The driver is always in a hurry or forgot that 4 wheel drive doesn't do anything for stopping and tada, ditch. Last major snowstorm there was approx 1 car in the ditch every 1.5 miles. No amount of sparkly snowflakes on the road will keep people that stupid from driving that stupidly, trust me. They're just idiots who will never learn their lesson. They're all Wisconsin plates too so don't go thinking it's someone from Texas or something who's never seen snow because those people are smart enough to stay home.
This idea would be a giant waste of time and money and not benefit anyone.

Re:hand-holding idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504699)

It's always some piece of crap minivan or Saturn Ion or Pontiac of some sort. ... Last major snowstorm there was approx 1 car in the ditch every 1.5 miles

I had to drive through that same storm. The vehicles in the ditch on the interstate I drove through were an even mix of cars, SUVs and semis. But everyone was already driving kind of slow anyway, as it was pretty obvious conditions were bad, and I don't think anyone is claiming road markings are need to help tell you there is a blizzard.

What was much worse than driving through that mess was getting to the edge of the storm where the roads were much clearer, people were driving nearly full speed making it less safe to drive slower, yet there was still the occasional spot of hard to see ice. This solution probably won't fix that, although a better version of it might be something to keep in mind. Whether it is worth it or not comes down to what it actually costs to add and some quantitative tests of effectiveness like as done for all sorts of other road improvements, yet few seem to both asking for that before denouncing it with some crap about "real drivers don't need it."

Re:hand-holding idiocy (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504805)

You may have noticed that this test will be run in the Netherlands. For those of you not familiar with the place: our winter temperatures mostly hover around the 0 deg C mark. At night, the air cools to below 0 and the roads freeze over, in the morning the temperature rises above 0 but it takes hours for the roads to thaw. Combine that with local variations, spots that are more susceptible to frost like bridges and overpasses, etc. and you have conditions where slippery roads are not necessarily signaled by a big, obvious blizzard.

As someone who's been caught out by this to the extent of rear-ending someone when the road went from normal to invisibly iced over in the space of 50 m, I appreciate my government putting effort into mitigating the problem.

Re:hand-holding idiocy (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505511)

I live in Colorado, and have lived for most of my life in Utah. What I notice is that the first big snowstorm of every winter season causes a large number of slide-offs. After that, not so much. I think lots of people forget how to drive on snow and ice during the warm season. That and the real morons can't drive after the first snowstorm because their car is in the shop.

Say "No Way" to this highway. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504561)

This is insane bait and switch. We had been sold a bill of goods for the last five decades. Personal jetplanes that takes off from the drive way vertically and land wherever we want, flying at hypersonic speeds in between. There was no talk of this stupid glow in the dark highway. We were told highways will be obsolete, and so would be the cars. We have been waiting for personal VTOL jet planes for so long, and now suddenly we are back to the stupid cars, with four real round wheels I suppose. No crystallic fusion yet, just the same fossil fuels. What? "Got double As" jeez! Thats for toys.

It is the mechanical engineers who have fallen so short of their assigned task. The other things they talked about constantly, video-phone and TV that hangs like a picture on the wall have been delivered by the electronic engineers. Even the hand held communicator that will put all the knowledge of the human race at the finger tips have been delivered. Though it is a big let down to realize that a huge percentage of knowledge of human race consists of cat videos and spoofed sub-titles of the Hitler movie.

Come on, Mech engineers. Step up to the plate. I am putting "Violate the Second law of thermodynamics" on the Kanban board. Deliverable as a beta feature for the preview release this quarter. And quantum mechanics. You are next. When are we getting the worm-hole to Andremeda? You guys keep going in circles. Just like your particles in that superconducting super-collider ring.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42504713)

A lot of posters obviously didn't read the article, so here we go.

They are using a paint that absorbs light in the daytime and releases it in the nighttime. 25 years ago I had some glow in the dark toys that worked on the same principle. It's not magick, nor a violation of thermodynamics. This can be reapplied when they would be repainting the lines, anyways.

The wind-powered lights use the wind of passing automobiles to light up.

Not sure how the temperature ones work, but again, we've had toy cars that changed colour by temperature for years.

Don't get too excited about the video (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504803)

the road will automatically light up with snowflake indicators to warn drivers of icy conditions (computer-generated video)

FTFY.

10 hours, ehh? (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504813)

Well, the problem is that on average, it's dark for about 12 hours. And in the season when it becomes cold enough for it to trigger, it's dark even longer.

"Route 66 of the future" (1)

relikx (1266746) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504933)

I get what he's saying but that phrase isn't really apt since Route 66 was replaced by the modern Interstate 40 decades ago. Ironically there are sections of Route 66 that are impassable by most vehicles when it snows due to steep hill grades (in Oklahoma at least where I lived off it years ago).

yea (1)

juenger1701 (877138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42504935)

that will do a lot of good when the road is covered in hard-pack snow (non northerners think ice but opaque white)

repair costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505085)

will repair costs and repair time go up to fix the roads when pot holes show up? Don't get me wrong I think it's a neat idea but the cost of up keep is the question. And will the road workers have to have a graphic designer on staff to draw the snowflakes correctly?

I beat them to it (1)

hb253 (764272) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505251)

I proposed this technology way back in 3rd grade in response to an assignment about saving energy. Note that the year was 1973. I expect royalty checks.

Wont happen in the uk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42505591)

Drivers paying £1.30+ a litre fuel and £200+ tax discs to make up for Google, Amazon and Starbucks tax evasion so no money left for innovation on government.

Wonderful (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42505705)

Another way to pander to idiot drivers, teaching them nothing except that they don't need to be observant or thoughtful drivers.

Back up cameras, back up sensors, blind-spot detectors, cruise control all help to create a less aware driver. Now they'll learn that they don't need to pay attention to the road condition. (Slippery slope argument? Maybe)

I almost ran over my 2 year old nephew one time in my truck (Dodge Ram). I didn't see him, he was behind me where there is NO visibility, sure a back up camera or sensor would have worked, but instead he has a responsible mother who saw and came out screaming and waving her hands to get me to stop (I drive an older diesel so it's a bit noisy). That's all it takes, responsibility. So there goes anyone's "what-if" argument; yes, it did happen to me.

Pay attention to what's around you, if you can't, have others do it. Turn your head to look in your blind spot. Lean to maintain your own steady speed. Learn to identify road conditions, and be able to control your vehicle if it slides that the speed you are going. If you can't control that slide, slow down to a speed that you can control the slide; then, if you do slide, you're OK.

Why do we keep pandering to mediocrity?

Now of course, this is all in general, I'm sure there's some with disabilities that don't allow them to turn their head properly, or maintain even pressure with their foot and whathaveyou.

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