Chinese company testing 1,080-meter-long ‘intelligent highway’ in Jinan city

Chinese company testing 1,080-meter-long ‘intelligent highway’ in Jinan city

In a notable move which can potentially accelerate the transformation of the global transportation industry, China is testing an ‘intelligent highway’ built by Qilu Transportation Development Group Co. The intelligent highway test project will check viability of highway that can generate electricity with solar panels and charge electric vehicles in future.

The ‘intelligent highway’ is basically a ‘smart road’ built in eastern-China city of Jinan. The length of the road is 1,080 meters; and it is built with transparent concrete which comprises of technologies -- solar panels, mapping sensors and electric-battery rechargers -- embedded underneath.

According to the details shared by Qilu Transportation, the ‘intelligent highway’ stretch of road caters to traffic of 45,000 vehicles every day. The solar panels embedded inside the road are spread across two lanes, and can generate electricity sufficient for powering the highway lights as well as 800 homes.

Further revealing that the ‘intelligent highway’ has three vertical layers, Qilu Transportation said that sunlight can reach the solar panels via the shell of the transparent material used for building the road. In the top layer, recharging wires and sensors can be threaded for the purpose of monitoring traffic flow, weight load, and temperature.

With reference to the ‘intelligent highway,’ Qilu Transportation’s General Manager Zhou Yong said that the existing highways are like “the 1.0-generation product” which can only carry the vehicles that pass by; and added: “We’re working on the 2.0 and 3.0 generations by transplanting brains and a nervous system.”

The concept is interesting and futuristic. However, it has to be seen if it can be financially viable. Many futuristic concepts fail due to inability to offer financially viable alternative to existing technologies.