The first trial of Dann Roosegaarde's Smart Highway has opened in the province of Noord-Brabant in The Netherlands.
In 2012 Dann Roosegaarde unveiled his plan for, "an interactive and sustainable road that includes a five-step plan for modernizing European roadways." In 2013 Dann won the INDEX Design To Improve Life award, and a great deal of exposure. Now it's real.
The wonderful thing about Dann's idea is that it puts the brains in the road, not the car. There are many grand plans for reinventing the car out there, which of course will be bought first by the early adopters with money to play. (Tesla, see) The Smart Highway is for everyone. Dann tells the BBC:
I was completely amazed that we somehow spend billions on the design and R&D of cars but somehow the roads - which actually determine the way our landscape looks - are completely immune to that process.
At this stage it is just 500 meters of "Glowing Lines" at the side of the road, but the vision includes much more including communication, car charging and weather reporting. Dann tells INDEX Design To Improve Life:
Glowing Lines is just the first step, but tonight we have shown that we have the guts to take on a project of this magnitude. And that is the most important thing when it comes to innovation: having the guts to actually begin to implement an idea like this.
Roosegaarde's partners, construction group Heijmans, developed the special paint that absorbs light during the day and then glows for up to eight hours, marking the edge of the road.
I Interviewed Dann Roosegaarde in Copenhagen before the Design For Life Awards; I apologize for choosing such a lousy location. I also look forward to meeting him again when he lectures at the Design Exchange in Toronto on May 8.