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Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands
April 13, 2014 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands. It's just making way for this, really.
posted by SpacemanStix (37 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat!

Until it snows.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I don't understand what problem this would solve. Cat's eyes and reflective paint already exist making it needless to light stretches of road outside of built up areas. Moreover, both technologies use the light from the car's headlights meaning that they are not reliant on "charging up" during daylight: when a car's there, they're there.
posted by Thing at 6:10 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Great idea, would definitely be preferable to light pollution. I'd be interested to know how long they remain effective before they significantly degrade.
posted by arcticseal at 6:10 PM on April 13


I don't understand what problem this would solve.

It resolves the existential pain of watching Tron as a child and thinking you would never experience it in your lifetime.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:13 PM on April 13 [37 favorites]


It makes the future look like the future, which is important.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:14 PM on April 13 [26 favorites]


Well then where's my tinfoil spacesuit and clumsily anthropomorphic robot?
posted by Thing at 6:15 PM on April 13


Well then where's my tinfoil spacesuit and clumsily anthropomorphic robot?

They are behind the couch sitting next to your hoverboard.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:16 PM on April 13


This will do a better job of making pedestrians or cyclists visible than standard reflective road markings do.
posted by idiopath at 6:23 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Dude, this is gonna make driving while tripping so much better.
posted by davelog at 6:30 PM on April 13 [10 favorites]


Cat's eyes and reflective paint already exist making it needless to light stretches of road outside of built up areas.

Argh, I'm an idiot. Having never heard the term "cat's eyes" for road reflectors before, I spent no small amount of time wondering about the sort of place Thing lived in where there were so many cats wandering the countryside that one could depend upon their presence to navigate a dark road. Also, this.
posted by jamaro at 6:33 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


It's a useful technology for small rural roads, which are dim by default. But it's only useful if it doesn't degrade or wear away with road salt and grit.

Interesting, though. I'd be happy if my bloody city would actually repaint the lane lines, rather than leaving everyone to guess.
posted by jrochest at 7:08 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's been any studies on the system in regard to highway hypnosis - particularly in relation to trade routes or evening/pre-dawn commutes.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:11 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


So...as these degrade, are they going to make everything around them subtly glow a little, lit by glow-in-the-dark road dust?
posted by limeonaire at 7:21 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of any glow in the dark substance that would emit that bright a light for near a full night.

I call BS.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:33 PM on April 13


My guess is that they're using europium-doped strontium aluminate. The good stuff will do about twelve hours. I have samples, I've tested them. It isn't like the zinc sulfide stuff we had as children.
posted by adipocere at 7:45 PM on April 13 [12 favorites]


This is seriously cool, and I'd like to know if cars would be equipped with blacklight headlamps, because that would (a) enhance the lines and (b) allow for some awesome new signage effects.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:45 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


If glow-in-the-dark roads manage to be visible through the ink of those rainy, impossibly-dark nights when standard reflective-paint lane lines seem to disappear, I'm all for them!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:48 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


It's just making way for this, really.

If this technology ends up coming to the US, it will probably end up looking like this.
posted by chambers at 8:05 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I can see this being useful on higher-speed rural roads/highways where if you're going the speed limit, you don't quite see enough road ahead of you because your headlights don't throw the beams far enough. Self-glowing road lines would be an improvement over headlight-reflective lines because you could see them from farther away. Wouldn't be necessary on slow side roads, but on roads that are too low-use for street lamps but are (two-lane) rural highways with higher speeds ... that could definitely help.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:08 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Glow in the dark roads would be cool, but not as cool as flying down the Kansas Turnpike at midnight on a summer night, with the full moon high, and the headlights out...
posted by Windopaene at 8:14 PM on April 13


Thing: "I don't understand what problem this would solve."

These would be a huge win for multipurpose paths.
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


Foolish engineers! If only they had consulted Metafilter first...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 PM on April 13 [12 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Foolish engineers! If only they had consulted Metafilter first..."

I call it Mefite's disease, where people spend years becoming expert at sarcastic comments, and then feel entitled to extend that expertise to fields outside their own.
posted by pwnguin at 9:30 PM on April 13 [7 favorites]


I don't understand what problem this would solve.

The first episode of Quantum Leap has a scene where he's driving in the early '50s and comments on how weird it is that they don't have lines running down the sides of roads. They're planning on rebooting the series 40 years from now and all this is so that they can make a clever callback to the first episode of the original.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:36 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


It makes the future look like the future, which is important.
The future never looks like "the future", because once it does then that look stops being "the future" and starts just being "the present".

Exhibit 1: the niece who informed me that she didn't like science-fictiony things while playing on her iPad. I won't reproduce my whole "that is from Star Trek!!!" rant here, but I'm afraid she wasn't as lucky as Metafilter.

Back to the topic, though, I also don't see what advantage this would have over the usual "reflectors for car headlights" that are commonly used in place of streetlights on rural roads. Maybe it's cheaper or lower maintenance than objects that have to protrude above the road surface?
posted by roystgnr at 9:44 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


roystgnr: "the niece who informed me that she didn't like science-fictiony things while playing on her iPad."

Wash: [about River] Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science-fiction.
Zoë: We live in a spaceship, dear.
Wash: So?
posted by Mitheral at 10:06 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


The future never looks like "the future", because once it does then that look stops being "the future" and starts just being "the present".

So you guys are way behind.
posted by maxwelton at 10:19 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I call it Mefite's disease, where people spend years becoming expert at sarcastic comments, and then feel entitled to extend that expertise to fields outside their own.

I know, right? Where the hell do we get off talking like we know anything about roads? It's almost like we drive our cars on them daily or something!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:55 PM on April 13


I like the idea. I suppose we're not at a stage where a selfsustaining bioluminescent system could do this? I guess, even if you could insert the gene(s) into the right bugs, have them survive within a usable matrix that allowed them to live and reproduce, they'd still require an inbound light source to glow. Does anyone know if bugs transformed with bioluminescent genes have been deployed much for commercial/practical purposes?
posted by peacay at 12:14 AM on April 14


Is this one-upmanship with Belgium?

(Also, Dutch light cycles would move at a much more leisurly pace. At least until the Germans steal them.)
posted by pseudocode at 2:10 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Re: Cat's Eyes -- those don't work in snowy climes where plowing is necessary. I honestly don't know if that's really an issue in the Netherlands, but it would be in lots of other places in the world.
posted by Ickster at 5:39 AM on April 14


Cat's eyes and reflective paint already exist making it needless to light stretches of road outside of built up areas.

Cat's eyes and reflective paint require the illumination from automobile headlights to work. A self-illuminating roadway could extend the range of electric vehicles by reducing the amount of illumination the headlights have to provide - and make it safer for on-coming traffic who would not be blinded by increasingly high-intensity headlights in cars.
posted by three blind mice at 6:17 AM on April 14


It's almost like we drive our cars on them daily or something!

What's this "we" business Sys Rq? Some of "us" think it's hugely uncool and extremely selfish to pollute the environment by driving a car on a daily basis so "we" ride bicycles.

Of course this still entitles "us" to make sarcastic comments about roads, albeit from a slightly different perspective.
posted by three blind mice at 6:24 AM on April 14


those don't work in snowy climes where plowing is necessary

The snowplowable ones do!

(It's snowing in Wisconsin today. Send help)
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:57 AM on April 14


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug: "The snowplowable ones do!"

I did not know the original cat's eyes were actually two dots in a housing.
posted by Mitheral at 4:56 PM on April 14


This stuff claims to glow for up to 24 hours.
posted by onya at 7:09 PM on April 14


33,000 immediately after charge, 945 at 10 minutes, and 126 at 60 minutes. It continues to be visible by the human eye more than 24 hours after the initial charge.

The measurements are in milli_lumen/m2, so we're talking 33 lumen per square meter immediately after charging. A bright LED is about 8 lumen over a square centimeter so that's not terribly impressive. At 10 minutes we're talking 0.9 lumen/m2 and at 60 minutes 0.126/m2 .

"Visible by the human eye" is ill-defined, but it's reasonable to say it goes down to .005 lumens -- in a dark room with your eyes fully adjusted you could tell that something was moving. But you've long since passed the useful range for something like this.

Eye adjustment really is a big problem with this scheme. With your headlights on I can't see how your eyes would make out even a 33 lumen/m2 line.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:56 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


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