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Smart paint lights your way on the highway

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By mid-2013, the Netherlands will feature glow-in-the-dark tarmac and dynamic paint that warns drivers of weather conditions.

"The Smart Highway" is a concept designed by Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure. Including glow-in-the-dark roads, interactive lighting and an induction priority lane for electric vehicles, the team wants to use light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to varying traffic conditions.

One particularly interesting feature is the luminous pathways in the road. Treated with a foto-luminizing powder, extra lighting in the dark becomes "unnecessary", according to Studio Roosegaarde. Charging by solar technology in the day, once daylight has fled, the pathways then illuminate the contours of the road for up to ten hours.

In addition, 'dynamic paint' responds to changes in temperature, and then can relay traffic information to drivers. For example, if its -5C and slippery, the roads are highlighted with ice crystals.

"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," Studio Roosegaarde communications partner Emina Sendijarevic told Wired.co.uk. "What's lacking is the implementation of those innovations and making those innovations intuitive and valuable to the end-consumers -- drivers. For this, a mentality change needs to take place within a country and its people."

Awarded with a Best Future Concept by the Dutch Design Awards 2012, the smart highways will be in use next year.

Image credit: Studio Roosegaarde

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— By on October 31, 2012, 1:39 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure