By the end of the year, Missouri's Transportation department expects to have a solar sidewalk installed at an I-44 rest area on Route 66. MoDOT officials hope the hexagonal pavers will provide enough electricity to meet many of the rest area's power needs. They also want to see how well the pavers could be used in roads as well as sidewalks, according to a report from the News Tribune.
The pavers are made by Solar Roadways Inc., a startup company based in Sandpoint, Idaho, that is developing solar-powered road panels to form a smart highway. The technology combines a transparent driving surface with underlying solar cells, electronics and sensors to act as a solar array with programmable capability.
After receiving some smaller grants from the Department of Transportation, Solar Roadways started a crowdfunding drive at Indiegogo to raise money to get the product into production. In May, it was extended by another 30 days. The campaign raised $2.2 million, exceeding its target of $1 million.
A story on curbed.com about the project reported Solar Roadways founders, inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw, claim replacing all of America's roads and parking lots with their solar pavers would generate more than three times the country's electricity consumption in 2009.
From SBIR grant money, Solar Roadways has already built a 12-by-36-foot (3.7 by 11.0 m) parking lot covered with hexagonal glass-covered solar panels sitting on top of a concrete base, which are heated to prevent snow and ice accumulation, and also include LEDs to illuminate road lines and display messages. The hexagonal shape allows for better coverage on curves and hills.