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14 January 2013

Photonics on the road to safer driving

In the Netherlands, by midyear they expect to have installed the first of several innovations that will lead to better highway safety and energy efficiency, Smart Planet has reported. Lights that are activated by passing cars, special lanes for charging electric vehicles while they’re moving, and temperature-responsive road paint that alerts drivers to freezing conditions are just a few of the features of this highway of the future. Watch the video:



Two companies, Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure, came up with the highway ideas. The luminous road markings and temperature indicating road will be installed first, and the other things shown in the video will take longer.

Any one of these ideas would be a welcome enhancement, but taken together, an exciting new driving environment will be created beginning this summer in Holland’s Brabant province. By the way, this comes from the country that last year brought us heated bike lanes for icy streets.

Technology to monitor the health of bridges and other highway structures is getting smarter all the time, too. A conference at SPIE Smart Structres and Nondestructive Evaluation on sensors and other technologies to monitor the health of bridges, roads, and runways will start with keynote talks on fiber-optic and thin-film sensors that can be built into structures to monitor the effects of typhoons, earthquakes, and other damaging events.

And vehicles themselves are increasingly fitted with photonics technology to enhance safety, from LED headlamps, MEMS tire pressure systems, and laser ignition systems, to back-up cameras , night vision and head-up displays, and much more.

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