The Future of Transport: Roads Under Construction

Solar Panels for Roads

I have already discussed the future of the vehicle.  Now let’s talk about the future of the roads we will be driving them on.  Every person reading this article has utilized roads, probably weekly, probably daily, probably several times a day. However grand or poor the structure may be, roads for travel are pervasive throughout pretty much all societies.  Since we all spend a decent amount of time on roads, shouldn’t we make them better?  Shouldn’t we utilize them for more than one purpose?  Shouldn’t we do our best to make the abnormally high amount of time we spend on these structures the best experience it could be?

First off, let’s talk about making the roads a little more enjoyable.  The average American has a commute time of 25.4 minutes.  If we take this working 5 days a week, and 48 weeks of the year (accounting for vacation) then we spend 203.2 hours per year (that’s over 8 days) just driving to work and back.  Alot of this is due to accidents, congestions and frankly, stupid drivers.  What if there were no accidents, every car drove the same speed, so no congestion and no people to make bad decisions.  This would mean so much for the road system, on which we would spend significantly less time.  All this would take is the self-driving car.

As this TED talk says, we could make the lanes slightly thinner, allowing for more vehicles per square footage.  This would mean more lanes, meaning a faster commute, and thus more productivity.  A system like this could completely change the economy of the surrounding areas, and on top of that, create happier employees.

Now, the future of roads could lie in the physical road itself.  There is a lot of roads out there, and that is a lot of area that could be put to good use.  This article shows that one possibility for roads could be a way to harness solar energy.  These solar panels, by, Solar Roadways, can withstand the weight of even the heaviest trucks and are capable of lasting an extremely long time before needing to be replaced. Check out the great artist renderings on the Solar Roadway’s website!   Is replacing or topping every single road with these impractical? Probably, but the concept could be put to use in parking lots or the tops of parking garages, or any new highways being paved.  A far out thought, but what if an electric car could be actively charged by the solar panels attached the road.  Every few miles a charging station is available where you can pull over and get a quick charge if needed, and all of it would be renewable and clean.

With all of these improvements and enhancements to the transportation system, there could be immense changes that affect everything from the local economy to a clean energy supply.  I believe all of these enhancements could make electric cars more viable to the general public as well.  With the convenience that the energy would offer and the lesser amount of time may mean that a bulky car might not be as necessary as previously thought.  All of these factors together mean that the future of the vehicle and the roads they drive could be at a major changing point and all we are is along for the ride.


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