Solar Freakin' Roadways

mpicco

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So unless you live under an internet shell, you probably heard of this...


This company went into Indiegogo asking for a million dollars to develop this "technology", and as of the time of writing this post, they have exceeded the 2 million mark.
They make huge claims with very little evidence, and the whole thing stinks from a mile away. A kajillion problems are raised with no apparent answers, and yet the video proposing it has 15 million views and a vast majority of "thumbs up". It's also one of the most annoying videos I've seen lately.

Are people this gullible? I haven't heard something this stupid since Cold Fusion. I bet if Indiegogo existed back then they would have raised a good hunk of change too.

Youtuber popular science guy Thunderf00t already called it out on this video, about 10 days (and $ 300,000) ago.

So, is this wishful thinking from tree hugging hippies, or the work of scam artists?
 
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Eye-Q

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I think they really believe in their product. In theory it sounds brilliant, too, but the inventors don't see the practical shortfalls.

I haven't seen the whole video by Thunderf00t, but one thing which immediately comes to my mind is that it's not viable to cover every road with those tiles since some regions get less sunshine statistically, hence the produced "free" electricity wouldn't cover the huge investments at all.
Additionally, certainly there would be times the solar cells would produce more energy than needed so the energy has to be stored somehow to be released when the solar cells don't produce energy (in the night).
The next thing is that the surface has to be as clean as possible to get as much energy as possible, and with the dirt, tire wear and so on which comes from the cars and trucks driving on the surface it would quickly get less and less efficient. Even if there is rain which washes dirt from the side of the road onto the road surface the efficiency is reduced dramatically, that's why solar cells are usually built sloping so the rain washes away at least some of the dirt.

You can go on forever with pros and cons, but why shouldn't they try to make it viable for a small portion of roads which would really work? If there would be no people who try something new there would be no progress, and maybe this research spawns something else the inventors haven't intended.
 

eizbaer

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You can go on forever with pros and cons, but why shouldn't they try to make it viable for a small portion of roads which would really work? If there would be no people who try something new there would be no progress, and maybe this research spawns something else the inventors haven't intended.
Obviously, the whole idea is rather insane at the moment :dunno: But hey, let them try it and see for themselves the problems they run into. Let them have a test-road, let them at least try and conquer some of the massive problems they are bound to run into. Yes, at the current state of technology and constraints imposed by the environment it's a massively stupid idea and will never work the way they intend, but I fully support further development. Maybe I'm biased, I like me some renewable energies, I actually study the damn stuff...
 

prizrak

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I seen this a few weeks ago, considering the state of NYC roads and how much work they are putting in to get them to stop sucking I'm gonna go ahead and say this wouldn't work.
 

AiR

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It's pretty freaking neat so let them build a freaking road with those freaking things and we'll freaking see how it goes. It might be a freaking disaster or freaking awesome.
 

mpicco

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I just don't see these things coping too well with a loaded 18 wheeler making an emergency stop...
 

Eunos_Cosmo

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A tiled road surface on the shifting clays of Texas? (aka one of the states that has enough sunshine to make this even theoretically feasible) A normal asphalt road can quickly turn into a rollercoaster around here if it isn't significantly engineered. How could a noncontinuous surface possible cope?
 

Electric-Mayhem

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I'm a skeptic at heart, but I think with some time testing and researching it could be a viable option for some areas. The idea that every road in the entire country being replaced by these is ludicrous, but doing some of the larger ones seems like a possibility if they do it right.

To me, it seems like some of the ideas with these will have to be dropped (like LED stuff and heating the road surface), but others are very solvable. I like to think that anything is possible given enough time (and money) spent figuring it out, so I say let them get far enough for a test and see what works and what doesn't. Even if only parts of this concept are used, its worthy looking at.

As far as people saying "just tossing these down on packed earth won't work", it seems pretty clear to me that the proof of concept was done with a bed of concrete under it. At least in Colorado, many of the new roadways are already going with concrete instead of asphalt/tarmac. Laying that concrete in a way that would accept these tiles might work pretty well.

The other criticism I have of the Thunderfoot guy is that he based many of his findings on retail prices for things, i.e. how much it would cost if you buy it from a manufacturer. This is very different then if you set up a manufacturing facility and did it yourself. I'm not saying its gonna be cheap, but by the time it gets to the end user in typical retail environment, it has been marked up at least 2 or 3 times.

Honestly, it kind of pisses me off when people instantly write stuff off just because it seems like its not possible. Time and time again, people have proven that stuff that seems like it is impossible to do on paper is doable if you keep trying and work through the problems in legitimate ways. I respect his criticism, and he did come up with some alternatives, but its also really easy for people like the Thunderfoot guy to make these criticisms that don't really help make anything better.

So yeah, that is my long and drawn out way of saying I think that it is great that the Solar Roadways people are getting a chance to try their stuff out and see how it works. Sure, the first iteration, or even the 100th might not work for real world use, but at least they'll get a chance to answer some of the criticism that people are bringing up with it. Nothing I'v seen from the Solar Roadways people has been dis-honest in my opinion, and rather has offered up a new idea that could have some real world use in the future.
 

Spectre

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I want to see how well a tile will work after I do a smoking burnout on it. Or a panic stop shedding rubber. :p

That said, this would probably be doable for sidewalks and other such large slablike structures that don't carry vehicle traffic.
 

Handz

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With all the traffic that passes over these in Los Angeles, I am betting they will only last 6 months max.....Unless R&D steps up the game.

Then when they break we are gonna have more congestion from road closures. :-|:think:
 

mpicco

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Thunderf00t put out another video on this and I am now completely convinced this is horse manure.

Specifically this part, where it shows just how little efficiency you get from a solar panel when you lay it flat on the ground, instead of angling it south (for the Northern hemisphere), or even better, have it track the sun.

So, horizontally immovable solar panels which dont even span half the surface of those hexagons (and therefor the road), coated with very thick glass, coated with rubber, debris, trash, many times covered by actual cars...

How is this project at all any better than putting solar panels on roofs, which take up most of the actual area of cities?
 

Eunos_Cosmo

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I do wonder if you could put solar-energy-collecting aggregate into the asphalt mix. It would be much the same as conventional tarmac, just with some of the aggregate able to produce electricity. Some sort of dielectric binder could be used to transfer electricity through the tar, and the whole system could potentially be 'dumb' in that it would be constructed exactly like a normal road. The efficiency wouldn't be anything like a properly engineered solar array, but it seems like it could be more feasible.
 

Posmo

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As someone who works very closely with road construction and upkeep, this is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard of. All it is is an extremely high maintenance, inefficient and expensive solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I don't think the people proposing this understand how much stress a normal road surface is under, not to mention weather problems and the like..
 

mpicco

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Yeah thats the video I linked on my first post...

In the meantime, the hilarity continues:

Military Applications said:
Imagine being able to put ?eyes and ears? on the ground anywhere in the world without putting human lives in danger. Drop a Solar Road Panel into the hills of Afghanistan via parachute. The parachute detaches upon impact and is retracted beneath the panel. Camera modules open and aim in every direction. A satellite dish configures itself for communications to anywhere in the world. Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina control the direction of the infrared cameras and watch the images on their computer screens and call in strikes when needed.

http://www.solarroadways.com/military.shtml
I am now convinced they're trolling.
 

AiR

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Wow look at that webpage. And note the copyright note at the bottom, leading to a thinly veiled advertising blog (which seems inactive though).
Trololololol.
 

Electric-Mayhem

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It did just occur to me that you could maybe use roadways for other energy production uses. I'm thinking something along the same idea as the tidal/ocean wave generators out there, that use something that already moves. This is obviously something for a much smaller scale as far as power generation goes compared to the tidal stuff, but might be able to at least capture enough energy to power LED road lights (not in the road, but normal street lights) or something useful to the road (rather then sending power to homes).

What I was thinking was something that uses the weight of the cars to push a spring loaded panel down that is then connected to a generator. Even if it was only small movement like a centimeter or two, you could still get some power out of it if designed correctly. In comparison to Solar Roadways, it gets rid of any concerns with traction since you could put it under concrete/tarmac. It also works in any weather, during the night, and would be far less prone to cars damaging it and effecting its efficiency.
 

narf

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...that would take energy from the cars, effectively making it a massively overcomplicated petrol/diesel generator.
 

Electric-Mayhem

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...that would take energy from the cars, effectively making it a massively overcomplicated petrol/diesel generator.
Yes...but its energy that the cars are already imparting onto the road, so its just capturing it.

I was just offering something with a similar idea to the Solar Roadways that gets rid of many of the inherent issues people bringing up.
 
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