Zhejiang province will open China’s first “intelligent” super expressway by 2022, a move expected to encourage the use of alternate-energy vehicles and autonomous cars, mainland media reported.
Construction of the solar-powered super expressway, called Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Ningbo Expressway, is expected to be completed before the 2022 Asian Games to be held in Hanzhou, according to Ecns.cn, the English language website of China News Service.
The six-lane expressway, which will connect Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo cities, will be 161 kilometers in length.
The expressway will comprise three layers: transparent concrete on the top, photovoltaic panels in the middle to generate electricity, and insulation on the bottom.
It will also provide facilities to prompt the use of electric cars, including solar powered plug-in charging stations.
Drivers, in the long term, are expected to recharge their cars by means of mobile wireless charging technology.
Ren Zhong, deputy director of the Zhejiang Province Transportation Department, said the Road Traffic Safety Law of China caps speed limits on expressways at 120 kilometers per hour, but the average traffic speed is now estimated at 90 kilometers per hour.
The expressway will facilitate automatic driving by offering an adaptive road environment. Automatic driving is expected to slash damage from traffic accidents.
“Automatic driving is comparatively safe compared with the manual drive mode,” Sun Zhang, a railway expert and professor from Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times.
Sun said sensors installed within the automatic vehicles and on the road can respond quicker than humans when emergencies occur, and detect malfunctions in order to ensure road safety.
The upcoming Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Ningbo Expressway will act as an alternative passage to the current Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway.
In December last year, China’s first solar expressway, a one-kilometer long facility, was opened for testing in Jinan province. It, however, suffered damage five days after the opening.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 28
Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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