On the Technology Horizon

Creative advances are constantly underway in the automotive industry, whether it is for more efficient roadways, safety features, or eye-catching new designs.

 Driving Innovation: Glass Highways
Researchers in Idaho are trying to pave the way for future roadways to be made of a much different, more efficient material. Solar Roadways Incorporated is creating solar-powered highway prototypes made of high-strength glass. The road panels would be made of layers of glass, solar cells, heating devices and lights and electronics. The solar cells would collect energy through the glass and help to power heating to melt snow and ice. Another innovation of the project is powering LED lights to broadcast important traffic messages straight from the road. Although the initial costs would be high, the engineer behind the project thinks it could eventually pay for itself in energy production. The company has received contracts through the Small Business Innovation Research Program from the Federal Highway Administration to research the technology.

Custom Cars: Colorful Tires
Bridgestone Tires has been dreaming up a new way to customize a car part that has long been a standard black: vehicle tires. The new tire printing technology allows owners to add graphics or even photographs to the side of the tire without weighing them down. Layers of ink are printed onto the tire above and below a protective cover. There is no official release date for this technology, but some predictions say cars may be driving with brighter tires later this year.

Upcoming Car Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans that by 2014, auto makers will be required to install rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles. Back over accidents are far too common in cars’ blind spots. According to KidsandCars.org, an average of 50 children’s injuries occur each week.