Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has announced plans to install solar panels at a welcome center at a rest stop on the historic Route 66 highway in Conway, Missouri as part of the department’s “Road to Tomorrow Initiative.”
The panels are developed by Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup founded by Scott and Julie Brusaw. The couple has been working on solar-powered ‘smart’ roads for the last several years, with the aim to turn the world’s transportation network into a massive power plant.
Right now, the company is working on paving some rest stops with these road-based hexagonal panels. After completion, the project will be evaluated, and if found viable, Solar Roadways will eventually pave a 200-mile section of the Route 66 on Interstate 70.
Here are some of the features of these solar panels:
- These solar panels are covered with tempered glass and can withstand even the heaviest trucks.
- These energy-generating roads will be able to supply electricity to nearby businesses and houses.
- LED lights in the panels provide street lines and signs and could even display messages or warnings directly on the road.
- They are waterproof and even have low power heating elements to prevent snow and ice build-up on the solar panels.
- The units are modular, so if one breaks, it’s easy to replace
Tom Blair, the leader of the department’s Road to Tomorrow Initiative, said, “It gets Missouri and MoDOT prepared for 21st-century innovations. We expect them to be in place, I’m hoping, by the end of this year, maybe before snow flies. If [Solar Roadway’s] version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves.”