First there were electric cars, and now with driverless cars on the horizon, we have Solar Roadways. This revolutionary initiative to change the way we utilize the nation’s millions of miles of roadways— by turning them into power sources— just set the record for the highest number of individual funders to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

More than 35,000 people from 42 countries have helped an innovative couple from Idaho, Scott and Julie Brusaw, surpass their Indiegogo crowdfunding goal of $1,000,000, and there are still three more days to go. Solar Roadways is currently sitting at just under $1.6 million in funding.

The project boasts that its Solar Roadways will essentially make our roadways smart. In addition to generating solar energy from the sun, the roadways wills also be able to move above ground telephone poles underground, and provide heating or LED lighting to roads.

The Solar Roadways campaign also states that it will:

  • Improve road safety by providing LED lighting that replaces paint and can be changed at the touch of a button.
  • Prevent accidents by providing advance illuminated warning of animals or debris on the road.
  • Provide an environmentally friendly way to melt snow without salt and sand.

Is this project ahead of it’s time?

Of course, an idea this grand will have it’s backlash. Joel Anderson of stated “There’s currently a virtually endless supply of places you could install solar panels that DON’T have cars driving over them and, as such, don’t require fancy high-tech glass covering them. Or, for that matter, don’t mean you have to worry about the long term wear-and-tear of millions of tons of steel and rubber driving over them at high speed every year.”

While solar energy continues to boom as prices for installation have dropped, we’re still in a country where electricity is not the main form of energy production. Further more, the recent trend in applying technology to products in our lives to make them ‘smart’ have no even reached major areas. We may have smart watches and smart phones, but we’re far from smart homes or even the potential of smart cars. Given that our society is not yet advanced to enough to have conquered smaller projects like smart homes and smart cars, I cant see how Solar Roadways would be an immediate implementation.

Granted, innovation doesn’t begin with immediate implementation. It takes years of work, iteration and constant testing to offer a product that is ready to become a game changer. Only time will tell if Solar Roadways is the foundation for something much bigger in the years to come but honestly, I think we’ll have regular use of driverless cars before Solar Roadways.

Notably, the previous record holder for the most Indiegogo contributors was the campaign by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) to create a museum for the original pioneer in electricity, Nikola Tesla (33,000 funders).

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