Green light for glow in the dark roads

Glow in the dark roads are to become reality on a number of experimental sections of carriageway in southern Holland next year.

The stretches of road earmarked for testing will receive special luminous paint to mark out the lanes and extremes of the highway.

The concept has been created by Dutch artist group Studio Roosegaarde in response to budget cuts that have seen local councils turn off streetlights in a bid to save money.

Holland’s largest road builder Heijmans has now got behind the project and is experimenting with the paint to ensure it stays glowing for as long as a northern European night.

The glow in the dark road covering needs to last for between five and 10 years without rubbing off and works by sunlight charging a special compound in the substance, giving off a luminescent glow when it becomes dark. It’s a similar concept to wristwatches with glow in the dark markings.

Interestingly, as part of the plans there will also be a reactive covering on the tarmac that reveals a snowflake graphic once the temperature drops below a certain point, warning motorists of a potential lack of grip due to ice.

Will we see glowing roads in the UK? It’s a distinct possibility. Given our nation has been subject to a similar streetlamp switch off, the special paint could theoretically find its way onto our carriageways to help improve safety.

 

HUMAN DRIVER EDGES OUT ROBOT CAR IN RACE

A racing driver recently beat an autonomous car in a race track battle, meaning the age old debate of man vs machine now has a definitive answer: humans are better than robots.

The duel was held at the Thunderhill Raceway in California using a 272hp Audi TTS that can “drive itself”. The racing driver used an identical vehicle – apart from the obvious electronic gubbins, of course – and beat the computer-controlled car

It was a relatively hollow victory for the human, however – the organic driver was familiar with the circuit and only beat the robot by a few seconds, whereas the car gathered data from sensors to determine the tyres’ grip levels and the best line around the course.

The race wasn’t just to rub the computer’s virtual nose in the dirt though. It was conducted by the Centre for Automotive Research at Stanford University as part of a project to develop control systems to make the humble car more autonomous and therefore safer.

Head of the Cars Lab at Stanford University Professor Chris Gerdes:

“The basic idea here is also applicable to safety systems. If we can have cars that drive up to the limits and recover if they go past, this is something that could help ordinary drivers – for instance on a slippery road.”

Predictably, the robotic car didn’t exhibit the levels of finesse of the human driver, but scientists are now working on recording what the best wheelmen do with a car’s controls, incorporating the often counter-intuitive movements into the programme’s algorithms.

According to Gerdes, this, in theory, will overcome the drawbacks of current vehicle stability and assistance systems, allowing manoeuvres the best drivers use to get out of trouble.

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