Go for a spin on the Netherlands’ glow-in-the-dark road

BY Sarah Corapi  April 14, 2014 at 6:20 PM EDT

Smart Highway -- Glowing Lines (courtesy of Flickr user Studio Roosegaarde)

Smart Highway — Glowing Lines. Photo by Flickr user Studio Roosegaarde


So long, streetlights — there’s a new technology lighting up the pavement in the Netherlands.

On a 500-meter stretch of highway in the city of Oss, you can now find road markings that glow in the dark.

The markings — which resemble something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie — are drawn with paint that contains a photoluminescent powder that absorbs sunlight during the day and releases a green glow at night. As the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation described, “It looks like you are driving through a fairytale.”

But the new road markings are more than just about aesthetics. This innovative project by interactive designer Daan Roosegaarde and Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans serves a practical purpose as well: lighting up the road while reducing the need for inefficient and costly streetlights.

“The government is shutting down streetlights at night to save money, energy is becoming much more important than we could have imagined 50 years ago,” Roosegaarde told the BBC last year. “This road is about safety and envisaging a more self-sustainable and more interactive world.”

For Roosegaarde, glow-in-the-dark lines are just the beginning. His vision for a “Route 66 of the future” includes other innovations as well — for example, weather markings, such as snowflakes, that appear on the road when the temperature drops to a certain level.

But for now, Roosegaarde and Heijmans are focused on testing their current product. The project is in its pilot stages and expected to launch in late April.