Future roads may include solar panels, LEDs and electric buses

solarroadwayTwo companies are shaping the future of transportation in the United States with innovations for safety, energy efficiency, longevity and more, Fast Company reported.

One company, Solar Roadways, has introduced the idea of using glass panels and solar cells in place of concrete or asphalt. This system, which would operate at 15-percent efficiency and provide more than four times the current electricity needs in the United States, would feature a layer of solar cells between sealed layers of glass. The glass/solar cell panels would then be used to construct the roadway surface.

However, this idea has yet to begin production because of a few possible complications: the glass needs to be strong enough to withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler, needs to be clear enough to allow sunlight to reach the panels but opaque enough to reduce glare, needs sufficient traction and needs to be durable.

Additionally, the company may install LED lights that can be programmed to spell messages such as a warning to stop for pedestrians.

Solar Roadways plans to test the glass panels in the spring of 2013.

The other company, Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (Wave), aims to make electric buses more cost-effective than their diesel or natural gas counterparts. Ideally, the electric buses would need no overhead wires or several rechargeable batteries. Instead, the buses would run on magnetic induction.

Wave’s solution is to build the buses with a wave induction receiving unit installed in on the bottom, with a magnetic induction power transfer system integrated in the road at various bus stops. In order to save on batteries, the magnetic induction unit will wirelessly charge the bus batteries at the stops with a magnetic induction power transfer system, allowing the bus to run all day. The bus would get a full recharge every night.

Wave’s website notes that the company is installing magnetic induction bus systems at Utah State University, for the Monterey Trolley in California, at University of Utah and in partnership with Advanced Energy Solution in Prague, Czech Republic.

The biggest problem with Wave’s electric bus idea is a lack of a power source for magnetic induction power transfer systems. However, Solar Roadway’s glass panels could provide the power source the systems need.

If Solar Roadways’ glass panel testing goes well, affordable electric buses could be part of our near future.