A highway stretched over the eastern part of China near the city of Jinan is gearing up to test an “intelligent highway” that is path-breaking – forgive the pun – in every sense. The new smart highway will be able to speed the transformation of the global transportation industry – with features like charging the car while your car runs through the highway – to be one of the many.

The road near the eastern city of Jinan in China is being paved with solar panels, mapping sensors and electric-battery rechargers as the country is testing an ‘intelligent highway’. Yep, highways all smarting up. In the latest development as per Bloomberg reports, all these technologies will be embedded underneath transparent concrete used to build a 1,080-meter-long (3,540-foot-long) stretch of road in Jinan. Currently, over 45,000 vehicles pass through this particular section of road in a day and the solar panels inside generate enough electricity to power highway lights and 800 homes!

But since that is not enough, the developing company Qilu Transportation Development Group Co is seeking to squeeze out more juice out of the solar grid and make it just as smart as the vehicles of the future. These solar panel grids will actually help in recharging electric cars on the highway – using just the renewable energy source. So all in all, Qilu is planning to expand facilities which can deliver better traffic updates, more accurate mapping and on-the-go recharging of electric-vehicle batteries—all from the ground up. And, that’s not all, China is looking to ensure 10% of all cars are EVs which will be fully self-driven by 2030.

For all this, the Jinan smart stretch has three layers with a transparent shell that lets sunlight reach the solar panels – the top layer is also equipped to let recharging wires and has sensors that monitor temperature, traffic flow and weight. This entire smart road project has a cost of $6.5 million, is estimated to have a life-span of 15 years, which means it will last as long as the conventional asphalt road. Highways like Jinan’s will, no doubt, figure in the list of areas where machine-learning is likely to be deployed since the Chinese government envisages building an intelligent transport system as part of the larger AI-centre vision. We must all take a leaf from China’s book if we are serious about realising its electric-vehicles (EVs) vision.