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Solar Roadways: solar-powered tech charge electric cars while on the road

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Idaho-based Solar Roadways is hoping to build solar-powered roads that will not only provide power, but will also create digital driving surfaces that can be remotely controlled. Solar Roadways says that if installed nationwide in the United States, their roads could provide more renewable energy than the entire energy the country uses.

Solar-powered roads by Solar Roadways are comprised of hexagonally shaped panels that consist of four layers: a base layer of recyclable materials that is placed on the ground; a support structure with embedded circuitry; LED lights that collect sunlight and convert it into electricity; and a top layer of reinforced glass with traction support for vehicles.

The panels can support trucks weighing up to 250,000 pounds (115,000 kilograms), and the lights can be remotely controlled to provide guidance to drivers or to reallocate spaces in a parking lot.

Electric vehicles would be able to use mutual induction technology to charge while driving. The panels would also contain heating elements connected to the electricity grid that could melt snow and ice that forms on them. An attached cable corridor would help store and treat stormwater, while also providing a place to store power and data cables.

The cost of the solar panels could be covered primarily through the generation of electricity, which could also power connected homes and businesses.

Solar Roadways estimates there is about 31,000 square miles (80,000 square kilometres) of usable road surfaces in the U.S. that could be converted into solar-powered roads.

Solar Roadways received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype in 2009. Now it is hoping for $1 million in funding to begin mass production.

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