In what may be a prototype of an actual information superhighway, the Solar Roadway is made of a series of tough, glass-coated panels that use 6,192 light-emitting diodes each to illuminate themselves at night, generate electricity for vehicles, generate heat to melt ice and snow and carry within them cables for phone and Internet service.
Just how many panels would we need to replace all of America's roads? A little more than five billion.
One problem for the system: it's more expensive than oil-derived asphalt that's used on motorways today. However, its makers insist that it lasts three times as long as typical pavement.
The other? Funding. With just over $6 billion in the Highway Trust Fund as of last month, there's not much to go around.
Is the Solar Roadway the answer? I'm not so sure, but it's proof that there's a way to make our roads smarter.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com