The drive to adopt ultra-high-tech infrastructure, not just for vehicles, but for the roadways themselves, has long been fueling innovation in multiple countries. From biodegradable materials, to 5G-enabled roadways, it’s looking like the roads of the future are going to be more than just asphalt and concrete with lines painted on them. In Europe, Italy, in particular, steps are being taken to transform one of the country’s longest highways.
The Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway is one of Italy's most well-known highways, owing to its lengthy construction period and less-than-ideal administration. The A2, also known as the Autostrada del Mediterraneo, is set to redeem itself in the future with tons of technological advancements in the pipeline. The approximately 400-kilometer (248.5-mile) roadway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria will be the first motorway in all of Europe to be worthy of being called a “Smart Road.”
So, what exactly comprises a Smart Road? Well, the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway is taking a three-pronged approach consisting of: connectivity, autonomous driving-capability, and sustainable energy. For starters, the infrastructure developments on the roadway will feature the latest generation wireless connection. This will enable road users to connect to the roadway itself via a mobile application.
Through the app, an array of smart services, most of which geared towards providing heads-up information, will be available. The ultra-connected motorway will be able to inform drivers and other road users of hazards, slowdowns, accidents, or construction sites hundreds of kilometers ahead, as well as provide applicable alternative routes.
Apart from boasting state-of-the-art connectivity features, the Smart Road infrastructure will also transform the entire 400-kilometer stretch of the Autostrada del Mediterraneo into an autonomous driving safe haven. Yes, it sounds incredibly lofty, but you will soon be able to drive through the entire highway completely hands-free, provided, of course, that your car or motorcycle has the capability to do so. If successful, the Autostrada del Mediterraneo will be the very first roadway in Europe to fully support autonomous driving capabilities.
Last but definitely not least, Autostrada del Mediterraneo seeks to be completely eco-sustainably. This means that all the electricity required to manage the highway’s new and advanced tech systems will come from renewable energy sources. The plan is that energy will be generated through photovoltaic panels, a specific type of solar panel which channels sunlight into electricity. Wind turbines are also expected to be in operation. This also means that fast-charging stations for EVs are going to be set up in multiple locations along the 400-kilometer stretch of road.