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The Smart Road: Practice and Concept
Lijun Sun, Hongduo Zhao, Huizhao Tu, Yu Tian
College of Transportation Engineering, Tongji University, China
1. The smart road: Practice
The concept of a super highway for intelligent connected vehicles
and autonomous vehicles has been proposed in China, and pilot
projects have been initiated. These projects include: modular pave-
ment instrumented with distributed optical fiber, which has been
built in Shanghai; self-healing asphalt pavements and self-snow-
melting systems, which have been built in several provinces; and
roads with humidity self-regulating subgrade, which have been built
in Hunan Province. Most recently, according to a report in The New
York Times, in December 2017, the construction of a photovoltaic
pavement was completed on the expressway in Jinan, Shandong
Province [1]. The section is 1080 m long and has three layers. The
surface layer is constructed from a transparent material that allows
sunlight to reach the solar panels underneath, which cover two
lanes. This layer is also instrumented with power cables and sensors
to monitor temperature, traffic flow, and axle load. Although the
technology required to charge electrical vehicles (EVs) in motion is
not yet ready, the ultimate goal of the photovoltaic pavement is to
extend the driving range of EVs by charging them while they drive.
The section was constructed by Qilu Transportation Development
Group Co., which has been working on this technology for over a
decade. Qilu reports that the cost of the test section was around
1100 USDm
; this cost can be reduced by mass production to
500 USDm
—a cost that is projected to be acceptable for mass
2. The smart road: Definition and philosophy
A ‘‘smart road” can be defined as road infrastructure that is inte-
grated with advanced network and communication technologies.
In other words, a smart road is composed of advanced structural
materials, perceptive networks, information centers, communica-
tion networks, and energy systems, and possesses the capabilities
of active perception, automatic discrimination, self-adaptation,
dynamic interaction, and continuous energy supply [2]. Compared
with a conventional road, a smart road should be able to extend its
service life [3], increase its performance, reduce safety risks, and
improve service quality.
The philosophy behind a smart road is centered on the realiza-
tion of intelligent capabilities such as those mentioned above [4].
Various technologies can be used in the development and use of
a smart road, including intelligent materials, distributed optical
fibers, intelligent film, piezoelectric devices, traditional sensors,
and so forth.
A smart road relies on smart materials or sensors to actively
monitor its own status, performance, environment, and behavior
[5,6]; it then automatically calibrates, integrates, manages, ana-
lyzes, diagnoses, and evaluates the collected data. Based on the
processed results, the smart road can further self-adapt to changes
in temperature, humidity, traffic, and so forth, and can actively
regulate and repair any damage. Meanwhile, the smart road can
dynamically interact with external factors using perception and
discrimination. A smart road should be a self-sustaining system
that maintains all the aforementioned functions using self-gener-
ated power.
Information organization is a key factor in smart road imple-
mentation [7,8]. Within the transportation system, a road-to-
everything (R2X) system must be built, with an equivalent
vehicle-to-everything (V2X) system; a vehicle-road-to-everything
(VR2X) system must also be created to support a vehicle-road inte-
grated system. Information within the vehicle-road integrated
system can be effectively organized by relying on a transportation
information modeling platform with four components, known as
the TIM4 platform. The TIM4 platform is composed of transporta-
tion driver information modeling (TDIM), transportation vehicle
information modeling (TVIM), transportation building information
modeling (TBIM), and transportation environment information
modeling (TEIM). Based on the requirements for communication
speed and data volume, the information can be classified into four
categories: dynamic, quasi-dynamic, quasi-static, and static.
Different communication methods can be used to achieve informa-
tion exchange between the various elements in the transportation
The envisioned future transportation system can be charac-
terized as a ‘‘five-zero” system, with zero casualties, zero delays,
zero maintenance, zero emissions, and zero failure. The realiza-
tion of such a system requires the interactions between
elements and the coordination of each element in the trans-
portation system (i.e., people, vehicles, the road, and the envi-
ronment) to be considered from a systematic optimization
point of view.
2095-8099Ó2018 THE AUTHORS. Published by Elsevier LTD on behalf of Chinese Academy of Engineering and Higher Education Press Limited Company.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Engineering 4 (2018) 436–437
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
journal homepage:
[1] Free Power From Freeways? China is Testing Roads Paved with Solar Panels.
The New York Times 2018 Jun 12;Sect. B:1.
[2] Zhao H, Wu D. Definition, function, and framework construction of a smart road.
In: Proceedings of 2015 International Symposium on Frontiers of Road and
Airport Engineering; 2015 Oct 26–28; Shanghai, China. Reston: American
Society of Civil Engineer; 2015. p. 204–18.
[3] Lamb MJ, CollisR, Deix S, Krieger B, Hautiere N. The forever open road: definingthe
next generationroad. In: 24th World Road Congress proceedings:roads for a better
life: mobility, sustainability and development; 2011 Sep 26–30; Mexico City,
Mexico. Paris: Permanent International Association of Road Congresses; 2013.
[4] Zhao H, Zhu X, Tu H, Yang Z. Concept and framework of smart pavement. J
Tongji Univ (Nat Sci) 2017;45(8):1131–5. Chinese.
[5] Lajnef N, Chatti K, Chakrabartty S, Rhimi M, Sarkar P. Smart pavement
monitoring system. McLean: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center; 2013
May. Report No.: FHWA-HRT-12-072. Contract No.: DTFH61-08-C-00015.
[6] Hautière N, Bourquin F. Instrumentation and monitoring of the next gen road
infrastructure: some results and perspectives from the R5G project [abstract].
In: Proceedings of the 19th European Geosciences Union General Assembly;
2017 Apr 23–28; Vienna, Austria; 2017. p. 18874.
[7] Li Q, Xiong W, Li Y. System architecture and enabling technologies of intelligent
roadway system. J Transp Syst Eng Inf Technol 2008;8(1):40–8. Chinese.
[8] Bender JG. An overview of systems studies of automated highway systems. IEEE
Trans Vehicular Technol 1991;40(1):82–99.
L. Sun et al./ Engineering 4 (2018) 436–437 437
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... In contrast, Correia and Ferreira [1] also state that Smart Road by Qilu Transportation Development Group Co., has a 5875 m 2 installation in Jinan, Shadong Province, which cost EUR 2.365 M [26], giving 402 EUR/m 2 [27]. Sun et al. [8] referred that it was impossible to confirm the previous value on a cost per PV nominal power due to the lack of information; in this case, panel dimensions. Besides the mechanical information not provided by Shandong Pavenergy, the Smart Road PV panel producer, not enough data are provided to simulate the PV system in the selected case study, but the cost will be used to evaluate a lower cost solution. ...
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Energy transition is an important issue for countries trying to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets. To achieve this reduction, the Portuguese government has budgeted a total of EUR 116 M to aid energy transition in the Autonomous Region of the Azores by 2029. This work presents a solution for producing electricity using photovoltaic panels (PV) to settle in the top of the airport pavement. In addition to producing sustainable electricity, the implementation of panels in the civil airport infrastructure allows us to address the reduction of emissions in the ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and the Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) program. Currently, PV panels are unable to support the weight of aircraft so the installation must be in the areas of the pavement where there is no regular aircraft traffic. As a result of the study, a production of about 9 GWh/year was achieved with an LCOE of 143 EUR/MWh, reducing emissions to about 6-ton CO2/year.
... Thus, road transportation is considered a key area for reducing carbon emission due to the transportation. The main measures for achieving low-carbon road transportation consist of (1) the construction of a green road transportation infrastructure by using warm mix asphalt mixture [9], using recycled asphalt mixture [10], and exhaust-decomposing pavement materials [11], (2) developing intelligent transportation including tidal lanes [12], green wave lanes [13], active snow melting pavement [14], passenger and freight separation [15], driverless vehicles [16], and vehicle road coordination [17], (3) promoting the integrated development of transportation and energy systems that can effectively utilise the road energy including light, wind, heat, geothermal, and kinetic energies [18,19]. ...
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... In situ instrumentation is an intrusive approach for continuous pavement monitoring, essential to understanding the state of life of the structures (Kara De Maeijer et al. 2019) and paving the way to the so-called "smart road" (Sun et al. 2018). ...
According to the construction leadership council: “smart construction is building design, construction, and operation that through collaborative partnerships makes full use of digital technologies and industrialized manufacturing techniques to improve productivity, minimize whole life cost, improve sustainability and maximize user benefits” [1]. So, referring to this definition, improving sustainability is one of its aims; thus, a significant relation between smart and sustainable construction is identified.Many researchers discussed the integration between smart and sustainable construction to achieve different objectives like selecting the best alternative green material, alternative model for a building, and suitable energy-saving method. As existing research utilized this synergy to gain improvements in the economic and environmental pillars of sustainable construction only, while many issues are there in the social pillar require improvements such as improving occupational safety and health during the construction phase, job security and welfare, improving the working environment and job satisfaction.Hence, this paper starts with an extensive literature review, that covers the status of the integration between smart and sustainable construction, and the existing application of this integration in sustainable construction’s three main pillars. Then the research focuses on highlighting the issues under the social pillar of sustainable construction that could be improved as a result of utilizing smart construction tools. This paper is supposed to fill the current gap in the literature, as it highlights the open issues and directions for future work associated with the integration between smart and sustainable construction.KeywordsSmart constructionSustainable constructionConstruction automationSustainable projectsSmart-sustainable practicesConstruction projectsSmart construction toolsBIM
... Furthermore, if a site has significant solar energy potential, highway slopes are also regarded as great places for installing PV systems [16]. In China, the first PV highway was constructed in Jinan in 2017 [17]. Despite the fact that the PV panels on the carriageways were removed after a year, the PV panels in the emergency lane remain operational [18]. ...
Installing photovoltaic (PV) modules on highways is considered a promising way to support carbon neutrality in China. However, collecting the area of the highway, and precisely assessing the shadow area of the highway under complex terrain remain challenges. That severely hinders the assessment of highway PV potential. To address these challenges, a spatiotemporal model is developed in this study to estimate the annual solar PV potential on highways over the whole Chinese territory. First, the areas of different highway segments are calculated based on highway network and highway toll stations. Second, hourly shadow area on highways created by nearby terrain is estimated based on a digital elevation model (DEM). When calculating the highway PV potential, the solar irradiation received in these shadow areas is regarded as zero. Finally, the PV potential of all lanes and emergency lanes was estimated at the prefecture-level city scale using surface radiation data and radiation assessment models. Based on the highway data with a total mileage of 143,684 km at the end of 2020, the results show that the annual PV potential is 3,932 TW and that the corresponding installed capacity is 700.85 GW, which can generate clean electricity at a rate of up to 629.06 TWh. The annual PV potential of highways in the southeast is greater than that in the northwest owing to the higher highway density in the southeast. This study provides a reference basis for highway PV construction planning and suitably assessment in each region of China for PV highway development.
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With the current large-scale construction of paved roads, continuous development of science and technology, and higher service requirements. Smart road is becoming the research hotspot in the world. But the most present research concentrate on some single intelligent functions of road or some specific technology such as snow-melting, solar energy harvesting, etc. There is no explicit definition or integrated framework for smart road. In this paper, on the basis of related concepts and researches of smart road at home and aboard, combined with some demonstration programs and technology trials, first, put forward a explicit definition and functions of smart road, then subdivided the functions, analyzed the key technologies and core problems of implementing each sub-function, finally summarized the definition, functions, and technologies, built an integrated framework of smart road, include physical frame and logical frame. The definition and framework construction would define the direction of smart road research and development to some extent.
The concept and framework of smart pavement are interpreted and proposed in this paper. The vision of transportation system is clarified as “zero casualties, zero delay, zero maintenance, zero emission and zero fail”. Towards the vision, the definition of smart pavement is given based on the elements of smart organism. Smart pavement is defined as an infrastructure that composed of advanced structure and material, monitoring network, data center, communication network and energy supply system, which has the ability of self-monitoring, automatic analyzing, self-adaptation, information interacting and continue energy supplying. Based on the definition, the function characteristics including basic performance, smart ability, information service, sustainability are proposed. Then a 5 levels system is developed for the smart ability of smart pavement. This paper constructs the framework of Smart pavement from five aspects: physical elements, information direction, energy way, spatial location and P2X (pavement to X) service. The concept and framework can be used as the guide for smart pavement research and application. © 2017, Editorial Department of Journal of Tongji University. All right reserved.
Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) is presently one of the forefront research domains on the global scale, and also a significant evolution aspect for future traffic and transportation systems. Intelligent Roadway System (IRS), as the crucial component of ITS, has drawn tremendous attention and also the R&D&A hotspot in developed countries. This paper, based on the current development progress of the road infrastructure in China and looking upon the domestic demands on the applications of IRS, first analyzes the conception and connotations of IRS, provides the system architecture, and finally discusses at length several key technologies and difficulties while implementing the integration of IRS moreover, it also summarizes the development and application trends on IRS.
In the past 10 years, the technology required for highway automation has experienced extensive advances. The changes in operational capability and technical performance of present highway systems employing these advances has been widely acknowledged. This acknowledgment is evidenced by the recent interest in the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System. This paper summarizes a comprehensive systems study of the factors influencing the design, development, and deployment of such a system. Candidate system concepts and system implementation strategies, which have a high potential for successful deployment with a minimum of disruptive influence and cost impact on the current highway system, are identified and analyzed. A recommended system concept is presented, together with a plan for development and deployment.
The forever open road: defining the next generation road
  • M J Lamb
  • R Collis
  • S Deix
  • B Krieger
  • N Hautiere
Lamb MJ, Collis R, Deix S, Krieger B, Hautiere N. The forever open road: defining the next generation road. In: 24th World Road Congress proceedings: roads for a better life: mobility, sustainability and development; 2011 Sep 26-30;
Smart pavement monitoring system
  • N Lajnef
  • K Chatti
  • S Chakrabartty
  • M Rhimi
  • P Sarkar
Lajnef N, Chatti K, Chakrabartty S, Rhimi M, Sarkar P. Smart pavement monitoring system. McLean: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center; 2013 May. Report No.: FHWA-HRT-12-072. Contract No.: DTFH61-08-C-00015.
Instrumentation and monitoring of the next gen road infrastructure: some results and perspectives from the R5G project
  • N Hautière
  • F Bourquin
Hautière N, Bourquin F. Instrumentation and monitoring of the next gen road infrastructure: some results and perspectives from the R5G project [abstract].
Permanent International Association of Road Congresses
  • Mexico City
  • Mexico
  • Paris
Mexico City, Mexico. Paris: Permanent International Association of Road Congresses; 2013.