We are a funny species, are n’t we?Throughout the world many open-minded people are busily working away to attempting to improve life for everyone and yet here in Norneverland we have a curious tunnel-visioned attitude about …well , mostly everything you can think of. If you listened to local radio , you’d soon conclude that large sections of the population are actually insane.Some , even those in Government, haven’t yet realised that we are living on a very old planet that we are intent on slowly destroying.On a local level , we are still so socially and politically inarticulate that we live in a perpetual sort of Grounghog Day from which all our great thinkers can devise no escape. We are condemned to repeat all our mistakes annually. Bombs are still being exploded for no apparent reason by huddled groups of malcontents or single individuals who can think of nothing more constructive to do. The paucity of imagination is such that people take to the streets to demonstrate in large numbers because they can’t fly bits of coloured cloth on sticks or find it absolutely essential for their well-being to dress in strange uniform clothing from times- gone- by and walk up and down a variety of roads.
Meanwhile in other parts of the world , other clearer-thinking and inventive minds are considering new ways to think about those same roads.Take the idea of building roads using a form of solar panels. You might think we are back in the realms of hippy-dippy science fiction , but take a look at the phone in your pocket and remember that when I was a child that was a concept seen only in the comics , dreamed up by writers and artists and eventually made real by technology.It is taken for granted now and is ubiquitous in everyday society. Last year I finally got around to putting some of those solar panels on my roof and now I have free electricity and hot water water every day courtesy of the shining sun.
That concept has now been taken a step further .If you can imagine roads built entirely from interlocking solar panels , able to sustain the weight of traffic , able to generate electricity from the light of the sun. We may not have invented an impossible , perpetual -motion machine , but with solar power we are coming close to that dream.In Idaho , USA, a company called Solar Roadways are in the process of developing solar powered road panels with the idea of building smart highways.The surface combines a transparent driving surface with solar cells.There are electronics and sensors which can be programmed with a variety of lighting displays.The hope is to use recycled materials to also stop waste.
The brains behind the company are Scott and Julie Brusaw and the dream is to replace the reliance on current surface materials such as asphalt with a surface made entirely of replaceable self-cleaning glass that has better traction .I can see something of the idea in action on my own roof because the rain keeps everything free of bird guano. It is envisioned that the winter’s snow could similarly be removed with built in heating coils which would keep the surface ice and snow free. That would also save on environmentally damaging salt and the need of spreading it at all .
Obviously this dream will be some time in the making and it will have to fulfill all sorts of safety standards if it is to succeed. It will also meet with scepticism from politicians with other axes to grind and other manufacturing jobs to protect and secure. It may initially only be used in a vanity project such as an enclosed park or small estates , but already the company has some small-scale working concepts built . It is only a case of the details of the idea being tweaked with even more novel input ,better ideas and crucially , more development money .
Now where was I ? …Oh yes ….back to the mundanity of our own narrow vision…endlessly marching on roads. That time has already rolled around again as the seasons pass , so the old tired arguments should begin quite soon. Can you imagine the lighting displays we could have here with this kind of new technology underfoot, though?