A new report from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut, VTI) highlights key features for the country’s future smart roads. Digitisation and electrification will be important features of the country’s new road links. In addition, road construction will have to account for climate change factors as well as increasing urbanisation and different power sources such as hydrogen fuel and electric systems for vehicles to boost sustainability.
To ensure that roads can cope with high traffic loads over longer periods as well as the effects of climate change, the report suggests construction using concrete, steel nets or fibre-reinforced asphalt. Additional drainage systems as well as heating may be required due to climate change factors. Utilities could be installed in culverts made from precast sections and located underground as part of the road construction process, providing access for maintenance. Electric charging infrastructure could be embedded in the roads. Meanwhile the width or lanes could be narrowed as more vehicles will run autonomously and autonomous trucks in particular will be able to function without needing wide traffic lanes. Safety will remain a priority. Advanced roads may also contain sensor technology to determine wear issues and address maintenance effectively or to monitor temperature gradients.
This new report forms part of the three-year Smarta project Smarta. The project is being contributed to by a number of bodies including KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, VTI, Spacescape, Sweco and White. Financing has been provided by Vinnova.