Solar Roadways

I love this clip and the concept of solar roadways! The idea behind the panels is so simple, yet the possibilities for what could be done with it are endless. The integration of heat and LEDs I think is brilliant and solves so many of the problems faced on our roads today. As a driver I look forward to this being introduced to the US and also UK, but as an acoustician I would be interested in some of the aspects of their design; let me explain.

The roads we have nowadays are smooth and even so, we get vast quantities of noise pollution near busy roads. This noise varies with speed: at lower speeds the noise is predominantly from the engine, however at high speeds it is dominated by tyre noise. Tyre noise is affected by the tyre material/texture depth and road surface as well as common factors to all noise such as Traffic flow, road gradient and percentage of HGV’s compared to normal traffic. Assuming all other factors would remain constant I wonder would the dimples seen on the design for the panels affect the noise created by the road? If so, I would then wonder why they would design it like that, specifically if it is meant to be designed for the future – to me making roads louder seems to be going back a step?

Maybe there is a reason behind the design, I’m sure on a project of such magnitude there would be a considerable amount of testing, of which noise would definitely come into. However, if dimples are really necessary, I would wonder if maybe they could be used creatively? This reminded me of another roadway project that had been created elsewhere, one which is a musical road! It works on the principle of grooves in the road and when cars drive over them, the grooves resonate and cause a tone depending on their spacing and traffic speed, which when put together can create a tune. Maybe they should try that as part of their new solar panel roads, I mean if the noise is less annoying then there is less chance of complaint, right?

There’s many interesting ideas for what could be done and where we could go with this concept and others for roadways of the future and I for one can’t wait to see them! What do you think of the solar panel road concept and the musical road? Would an increase in noise level put you off the idea of it?