Smart paint lights your way on the highway

The Netherlands is introducing a form of ‘smart highway’, featuring glow-in-the-dark tarmac and dynamic paint that warns drivers of weather conditions.

The roads will include interactive lighting and an induction priority lane for electric vehicles, with the aim of using light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to varying traffic conditions.

The design and concept are by Dutch firms Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure.

According to an article on, one particularly interesting feature is the luminous pathways in the road. Treated with a foto-luminizing powder, extra lighting in the dark becomes “unnecessary”. Charging by solar technology during the day, 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.

According to, the idea is to not only use more sustainable methods of illuminating major roads, thus making them safer and more efficient, but to rethink the design of highways at the same time as we continue to rethink vehicle design. As Studio Roosegaarde sees it, connected cars and internal navigation systems linked up to the traffic news represent just one half of our future road management systems — roads need to fill their end of the bargain and become intelligent, useful drivers of information too.

Hopefully this kind of development will eliminate the need of temporary signage clutter which is ineffective, dangerous and expensive.

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 told “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.

The smart highways will be installed and in use in The Netherlands by the middle of next year.

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