Smart Panels to Get Tryout on Route 66

Solar Roadways’ hexagonal, LED-embedded solar panels will be used to generate electricity for the Route 66 Welcome Center in Conway.

By Anca Gagiuc

Solar Roadways
Solar Roadways

As part of Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative, which fosters smart highways, renewable energy and other innovations, a series of panels called Solar Roadways will be installed on a portion of historic Route 66.

“Solar (Roadways) can hopefully create new revenue streams,” Tom Blair, an engineer for Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT), told Missouri’s News Tribune. “If their version of the future is realistic, roadways can begin paying for themselves.”

The product was created in 2010 by Julie and Scott Brusaw of Idaho. They say that the hexagonal solar panels can filter rainwater, replace above-ground cables, melt snow and light up to give warnings to drivers.

According to the company’s website, Solar Roadways is a product containing “LED lights to create lines and signage without paint heating elements to prevent snow and ice accumulation (and) microprocessors, which makes them intelligent, (allowing) the panels to communicate with each other, a central control station and vehicles.”

At first, Solar Roadways was funded through a research contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation. An Indiegogo campaign helped them raise an additional $2.25 million for their project. Financing for the Route 66 pilot program has yet to be fully secured, with local government planning to seek crowdfunding for the venture.

Image courtesy of Solar Roadways