What about smart roadways? Missouri-based tech startup intends to turn highways into networks
Those who live in the northeastern United States are intimately familiar with all five seasons—summer, autumn, winter, spring and pothole season. When warmer weather finally arrives, melting snow reveals roads and bridges riddled with cracks and frost heave-inflicted pockmarks—damage taxpayers are accustomed to financially covering. That’s because maintaining public roadways through taxation has become as American as apple pie.
But with the industrial era disappearing in the rearview mirror, as communities drive further into a new period marked by digitization and an emerging share economy, does it still have to be that way?
Not according to Tim Sylvester, founder of Missouri-based Integrated Roadways, a smart infrastructure technology provider that’s created a smart pavement system comprised of “precast concrete sections embedded with digital technology and fiber optic connectivity to transform ordinary roads into smart roads,” according to the business’ website. The business advertises itself as a means to turn roads into networks.
“When cities and states took on responsibility for financing roads 100 years ago, it was to promote the automobile,” Sylvester said, noting the economic implications of the auto when it was first invented. “Now the industrial age has come and gone, and we’re dealing with the age of knowledge and technology. It’s time for us to change the way we deliver public infrastructure in the same way we changed 100 years ago.”
In his perspective, Sylvester envisions a future where roadways are paved with supporting infrastructure for emerging technologies like 5G and self-driving cars, maintained through public-private partnerships like the way power or gas is provided to homes. Money could be made to maintain the roads through services embedded beneath the surface. Wireless signal emitters, for example, could connect devices and vehicles, serving as the technological backbone for smart cities.
It could fundamentally change the transportation industry. What would shipping look like if electric vehicles could be recharged—at a cost—while barreling down the highway at 65 miles per hour?
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