But, wait, as the old infomercials said, there's more to Solar Roadways than just free daytime electrons. Silicon in a roadway brings intelligence and opportunity. You don't really want to paint over photovoltaic cells with lane markers, so LED lighting will serve that purpose, making the lines easier to see at night, and able to change as traffic conditions dictate (or turn off when nobody's around). They can even provide real-time warning signs for upcoming traffic hazards.
Since snow also kills the power collection, heating elements will melt and dry the road, greatly improving safety, slashing plowing budgets, and building the case for this technology in the northern latitudes where less solar energy can be collected. Built-in pressure sensors could detect animal or pedestrian traffic, triggering illumination and warning messages. Finally, the smart panels will know when a neighbor gets damaged and summon a crew to quickly swap out the 110-pound panel. The latest design envisions 2-foot-wide hexagonal panels supported by a roadway underlayment similar to normal roads, the whole works sloped to drain water into a trough with an adjacent cable run that carries power and smart-roadway wiring. These troughs could also be sized to accommodate telecommunications and power cabling, eliminating fragile and unsightly overhead lines.