Smart roads look to generate electricity from passing traffic

The SMART Connected Community: Live Labs project has received £4.5mn of innovation grant funding and is set to explore smart roads that generate electricity from passing cars, trucks and buses.

The project is being led by Buckinghamshire County Council and is to focus on Aylesbury Garden Town. Researchers from Lancaster University are set to develop bespoke designs specific to road conditions in Aylesbury over the next two years, with the electricity harvested by the smart roads stored by roadside batteries that can power street lamps, road signs and air pollution monitors. The smart roads will also be able to generate data on vehicle speeds, the type of vehicles travelling and other information on traffic flows. This was noted as being something that should help the local highways authority to better manage traffic.

It is one of eight Live Labs projects, under the £22.9mn SMART Places Live Labs Programme, which is aiming to test technological advances that comprise of wireless communication sensors, smart materials, and energy generation and storage.

Professor Mohamed Saafi, leading the research at Lancaster University, said: “This is a very exciting project where we will develop novel smart road surfaces that harvest energy to power sensors that can monitor both the structural integrity of road surfaces and traffic flows – providing valuable new data streams that will help to significantly improve the efficiency of highways management and maintenance. We see these next generation energy harvesting road surfaces as an important part of future smart cities.”

Lancaster University