Route 66, 2.0: A Gorgeous Glow-in-the-Dark Smart Highway

The Smart Highway is the Route 66 of the future, incorporating smart energy, interactive lights, and adaptable road signs.

Rotterdam-based designer Daan Roosegaarde is boldly going where few architects go: to our roads and highways. His team's proposal, "Smart Highway," conceptualizes the "Route 66 of the future," a collaboration with Heijmans Infrastructure, one of the biggest—and now most innovative—road engineering companies in Europe. The proposal, selected as "Best Future Concept" this week at the Dutch Design Awards, outlines a plan for more sustainable and interactive roads that incorporate smart energy, road signs that adapt to specific traffic situations, and interactive lights.

"It's technologically driven, but it's also an ideologically driven project," Roosegaarde explains. "In a world that is increasingly being digitized, where the technology is jumping out of the computer screen, in a world where energy has become a problem, it is natural for a young designer like me to merge these worlds and come up with proposals of what we want our future to look like.

"We spend billions on roads and they hack our landscapes incredibly," he continued. "Roads dominate the way cities look more than architecture itself, and as a trained architect it started fascinating me that designers are not involved in these things. [After this project] now I know why, because it is one of the most conservative branches out there, but the potential is of course huge."

Roosegaarde's Smart Highway is comprised of various elements, like the Glow-in-the-Dark Road, which uses social foto-luminising powder to illuminate a path's contours rendering extra street lamps and wires obsolete. The powder charges during the day and can last up to 10 hours at night. Dynamic Paint responds to various temperature fluctuations, like if the road becomes cold and slippery, ice-crystals appear. And the Induction Priority Lane gives an advantage to those with electrical cars, which Roosegaarde explains are more abundant in his part of the world, "If you buy a hummer in the Netherlands, you're a loser."

Has anything like this has ever been done before? The designer thinks not. "So far to my knowledge no, otherwise I would have hired them already," he said. "You can never claim an idea, but you can claim it's execution of course. The idea has been spread around though: we are contacted by a lot of cities that want to have this sustainable statement, and actually want to purchase it, like a boulevard of dreams, like you have in Hollywood so to speak."

Construction on the Smart Highway will begin on 200 meters of road in the Netherlands in early 2013. The execution may prove a challenge though, so Roosegaarde and his team have been experimenting with prototypes. The designer is confident in his vision. "A lot of people say to me, it's not possible," he said. "It's my job to prove them wrong."

Photos courtesy of Daan Roosegaarde


The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.


Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet