At some point, you've probably sat back and said "Couldn't we solve climate change and the broader energy crisis just by sticking solar panels to everything?" It's not a bad idea, mind, but the cost and resistance to such a scheme would make it a nightmare to implement. But what about if we turned the nation's highways into solar farms that we could drive along? Scott and Julie Brusaw have been working on that idea, and after a decade of partially-successful flirting with the US Government, they're taking to Indiegogo to ask us to fund the next phase of their solar roadway.
Each interlocking hexagonal segment is covered with toughened and textured glass that's capable of withstanding 250,000 pounds. Beneath that, you've got a solar panel, a series of LED lights and a heating element that'll keep the ice and snow off the hardware in winter. The lights are used to replace conventional traffic lights, offering constantly updating safety warnings and guide lines that can adapt to traffic conditions on the fly.
The system would require a trench running down one side, which would hold the power cables, but could also be used as the backbone for a potential new high-speed data network. As each panel would also be connected, it'd instantly report a fault back to a maintenance engineer, and also track its location, should someone decide to steal one for their own nefarious uses.
Naturally, a nationwide, decentralized power grid could potentially guarantee energy independence and provide near-limitless power for our EVs and homes. That's why the couple is asking for a whopping $1 million required to hire the materials scientists, civil and structural engineers necessary to turn the panels from neat idea to workable project. There are plenty of pitfalls, and we're wondering if heating the ground to keep the roadway clear wouldn't in itself cause more climate change, but hopefully that's another issue that your cash could fix.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.