Paving the Way to a Smarter Future with Smart Roads

avcontentteam 30 May, 2023 • 7 min read


As a kid, you must have played some racing or parking games where you were supposed to drive a vehicle around; ever noticed how the roads change depending on your gameplay? Fast forward a few years, and this has become a reality. Smart roads are among the most recent technologies that help city planners and organizations to address traffic-related problems safely and sustainably.

If you’re hearing about the same for the first time, don’t worry. This article will introduce you to the new era of roads wherein the roads can alter traffic conditions, adjust to changing weather, and reroute vehicles automatically. So grab a coffee, read on, and witness the magic of smart roads.

What are Smart Roads?

Smart roads are modern-day IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructure built on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to collect and analyze real-time traffic. Analysts use this data to devise algorithms and systems to enhance day-to-day traffic conditions.

Smart roads use a combination of sensors, cameras, and communication technologies to collect data about traffic patterns, weather conditions, and road surface conditions in real time.

Smart road infrastructure can also be further developed to incorporate intelligent lighting systems that automatically adjust the brightness based on the time of day. They also leave a lot of scope for electric vehicle charging stations and newer renewable energy generation.

What are the Benefits of Smart Roads?

There are many benefits to the new smart road technology. Let’s learn about them in detail.

Benefits of Smart Roads
Science Direct

Less Congestion on Roads

As smart roads can automatically adjust traffic conditions by working on signals and vehicle tracking, they help improve severe traffic conditions. This technology can be beneficial in cities like Los Angeles, Delhi, Colombo, etc., with a traffic index of over 340— you’ll witness bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Pedestrian Safety

Thousands of pedestrians are often in potential danger due to the increasing number of vehicles in the USA. A study highlighted that over 54,000 crashes resulted in pedestrians getting injured in 2020—the data is ever-increasing as more people get a car. Smart road technology can be a boon for pedestrians as it uses sensors, cameras, and communication technologies to alert people on roads. They can enhance the safety of bicyclists and motorcyclists as well.

More Connectivity

The utilization of intelligent transport system (ITS) applications on roads and transport corridors, particularly those that weren’t previously connected, can be improved and extended with the help of roadside network deployments. This puts more areas and highways under surveillance and enables authorities to have near-real-time activity information.

Better Parking and E-Tolling

The technologies used in smart roads can also benefit parking and e-tolling systems by reducing congestion, offering license plate recognition, and automatically allotting highway/toll fees— all in real-time.

Application of Smart Road Technology

Many metro cities are now undertaking the smart road project by innovating many ways to connect vehicles with smart roads for automated traffic management. This section will acquaint you with real-world applications of smart roads worldwide.

Smart Roads in Europe

Europe has been a hub of many technological innovations, especially in vehicles, high-speed trains, and the Internet, and these are not only it. The continent has been prompt in adopting smart road technologies, given it houses a vast network of roadways and several globally renowned highways like the U-Bahn and the Stelvio Pass. Several projects have been undertaken to make this network more advanced and maintained.

One is the Ursa Major project that aims to achieve high-grade traffic management and recuperate traveler experiences. Numerous stakeholders from Germany, Netherlands, and Italy have worked on this project to improvise cross-border transportation by syncing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITSs). It was a huge success that over 1,270 parking areas got upgraded with intelligent parking services, 301 new detection units, and over 192 variable message signal sensors were installed.

Smart Roads in Europe
European Commission

Smart Road Technology in the USA

You must know that the USA and its transportation system are vast. To prevent any further deterioration of over 4 million miles of roadways spanning the continent, the region is investing heavily in adopting smart road technology. The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act plans to allocate over $100B to repair dilapidated roads and highways to incorporate intelligent road systems and $7.5B for electric vehicle charging stations. Another $65B would be used to provide broadband connectivity to improve internet access to build a framework for intelligent transportation systems.

Smart road technology in the USA
Business Journals

Smart Roads in Asia

China and Japan are leading the forefront of intelligent road technology in the Asian continent. Starting with China, the country already has numerous intelligent road systems in place and is extending the network to more provinces. Its first all-intelligent highway— the highway from Chengdu to Yibin is a 157km long smart highway equipped with sensors, radars, and IoT devices to collect data.

Talking about Japan, the country is already on the route to building smart cities across southeast Asia and deploying highly-advanced traffic control systems. Vietnam is also on board with this development and following in Japan’s footsteps to build a robust traffic infrastructure for Hanoi.

Smart Highways in Yibin
Virtuosity Blog

Components of Smart Road Infrastructure

Components of Smart Transportation
Universal Data Systems

Smart road infrastructure is a technology system that improves safety, efficiency, and sustainability. These technologies (or components) may vary based on the project requirements but often include


Sensors and cameras are used in abundance to collect visual and audio data on traffic flow, weather conditions, roads, and others.

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)

ITS technology uses real-time data to guide vehicles through traffic by reducing congestion and improving safety. This system uses Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) and other tools to message signals, operate intelligent traffic lights, and automate toll gates.

Energy Harvesting Systems

One of the best parts about a smart highway is that it can incorporate energy harvesting technologies. Primarily, using cameras and sensors reduce the need for external surveillance. Secondly, these roads can be designed with piezoelectric crystals embedded beneath the asphalt. So when you drive over, the force from the wheels causes these crystals to generate electricity. This energy can power street lights or be harvested for future use.

Data Analytics and Management Systems

As smart roads are built using historical traffic data, there has to be a robust data analysis and management system.

Challenges and Limitations of Smart Road Technology

Despite offering several solutions for modern-day traffic conditions, smart road technology is still very nascent and bound to face many challenges and limitations. Let’s learn how.

Very High Cost

It is not a shocker that smart highways or roads are million-dollar projects. As each component of such infrastructure is technologically significant, the cost of developing and maintaining them is very high. For example, over 421M euros were invested in 69 mobility projects—and this is only the investment; maintenance costs would follow.

Technical Limitations

The accuracy and reliability of smart highways or roads depend on how well each technology performs— the cameras, sensors, communication networks, etc. Their functionality can depend on numerous factors like weather, limiting their effectiveness.

Data Privacy and Security

As smart road technology is built on historical data and constantly accumulates more, data privacy and security concerns are bound to rise. It’s essential to have robust cybersecurity measures to protect against data breaches and cyber-attacks.


Smart road technologies amalgamate many other technologies, like communication systems, data management systems, sensors, cameras, etc. Some of these may be incompatible with others, making integrating them into a seamless transportation system challenging.

Future of Smart Road Technology

With a growing trend of people shifting towards electric vehicles, the automobile industry and traffic authorities are looking up to smart roads. The intelligent road infrastructure accommodates the existing vehicles as well as makes room for upcoming generations of electric vehicles. Consequently, the future of this technology seems astonishingly bright.

Moreover, companies are developing smart pavement technologies to ensure that repairs are minimized in the long term as roads are constantly in flux. This will not only help with road safety but also double as a Wi-Fi platform, especially for electric vehicles. Many tech startups, like the Kansas-based Integrated Roadways, are proactively developing this technology.

Additionally, intelligent highways open doors for sustainable roads that use light, energy, and signage to manage traffic. A 3-month trial project was undertaken in the Netherlands to test the technology of painting such roads with “solar paint” lines that accumulate energy during the day and emit it at night, providing up to 8 hours of increased visibility.


Clearly, smart roads are indeed the roads of the future. With the integration of advanced technologies such as sensors, cameras, communication networks, data management technologies, and intelligent transportation systems, smart roads can create a more efficient, safer, and sustainable transportation system. Besides, they can make traveling safer and quicker by optimizing traffic and congestion.

But nothing this good comes that easy. The adoption of this technology also comes with challenges and limitations, such as high costs, technical limitations, data privacy, and public acceptance. Nevertheless, just like all other things smart, even the roads will catch up with the trend.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the main features of smart roads?

A. Smart roads offer several features in line with traffic management. These include speed sensors, acoustic sensors (for noise), CCTV cameras, weather monitoring systems, digital signage, etc.

Q2. What are the major problems faced by traditional roadways?

A. Some of the major problems are- Bumper-to-bumper traffic, inadequate roadways network, unmetalled and deteriorated roads, and lack of surveillance and connectivity

Q3. When were smart roads inaugurated in India?

A. India’s first brush with smart road technology was in 2021. Two smart roads were inaugurated in Ujjain on March 16, 2021.

avcontentteam 30 May 2023

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