Although it sounded like a fairytale when artist Daan Roosegaarde stated two years ago that one of his plans is to build glow-in-the-dark roads in the Netherlands, the project has just been inaugurated. The light-absorbing glowing markings have already replaced streetlights on a 500-metre section of N329 near Oss and, although obtaining the necessary approvals from the government took a lot of time, the demonstration has finally made its debut. However, Roosegaarde’s plan is to extend his ideas at global level and help roads keep the pace with the increasingly technologically advanced cars.
Daan Roosegaarde finally put his dream of making glow-in-the-dark roads into practice when the first glowing piece of highway was inaugurated in the Netherlands. In 2012, the artist stated that he got the idea while sitting in his car and daydreaming about how he could help roads keep up with the cars’ technology. He added that his dream highway was “this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.” Part of his vision included weather markings that would appear when the temperature reached a certain level, but for now, Roosegaarde and road construction company Heijmans have partly made their dream of inaugurating glow-in-the-dark roads in the Netherlands come true. Two years ago, the artist was pondering on the billions spent on cars’ design and R&D, and the fact that there is little to no attention paid to roads. As a result, he started carrying out tests in his studio at Waddinxveen, while Heijmans was working on the glow-in-the-dark paint.
Project on Hold
Although glow-in-the-dark roads were inaugurated in the Netherlands two years after Roosegarde first introduced his idea, the Dutch News reported that the project is currently on hold, since no further contracts have been secured yet.
Roosegarde told Wired.co.uk that the luminescence of the paint made by Heijmans is “almost radioactive,” but their plans do not stop there; “we would like to use [this] outside of cities, in rural areas where there’s no lighting,” he says. The project’s flaw is that, although the glow lasts up to eight hours after charging throughout the day, an inconsistent strip would not be as effective as street lights that use energy. Roosegarde went as far as suggesting an “induction priority lane” that can recharge electric cars as they cross the highway. As far-fetched as it might seem, the idea which could be introduced in the Netherlands is already functioning in France; similar technology is used to power a tram system with no cables in Bordeaux.
Roosegarde’s project with the glow-in-the-dark roads is not the only one facing delays because of the government; the artist told Wired.co.uk that he suggested smog-attracting electrostatic fields that would be set up in Beijing, but the bureaucracy has become a big problem. As a result, he is urging all ministers across the world to solve this issue and allow experiments that might find the answer to all sorts of problems. So far, glow-in-the-dark roads have been inaugurated in the Netherlands, but the project has been put on hold because of the lack of further contracts.
By Gabriela Motroc