The state of America’s infrastructure is clearly in need of much attention and repair, something that is obvious to any traveler up and down the I-95 corridor along the East Coast, no matter your mode of transportation — car, rail or air. But it’s more than just repairs that are needed — we’re on the brink of needing to completely rethink how these bridges and roads are upgraded to incorporate the various type of digital infrastructure that will be required. The drivers behind this new demand are two aspects of our Disruptive Innovators theme: electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.
Given that in many parts of China surface infrastructure and transportation isn’t being rebuilt, but rather built for the first time, the country has the opportunity to integrate technology with the full knowledge of what the next generation of cars and vehicles will demand. A recent article in Tech Crunch digs into how “smart highways” are taking shape not just in China, but also Dubai:
The rise of automated vehicles throughout the world has also given rise to the idea of smart highways, encompassing all sorts of technologies such as sensors, solar panels and software to create a safer and more efficient driving environment. While nations such as Dubai have announced plans to develop and integrate existing smart technologies into their traffic systems, China is one of the first, if not the first, to announce plans to build a projected 161 kilometer-long smart road in its eastern Zhejiang province, integrating safety features to support autonomous driving tracked with sensors, an Internet-of-Vehicles system and solar panels.Chinese scientists also continue to innovate in the solar sector, a key component of smart highways, achieving a record 17.3 percent power conversion efficiency rate on organic solar cells. Therefore, we can only conclude that the world’s first true smart highway will be in China, leading the way to fully integrate smart technology with current traffic infrastructure.