Hangzhou and Ningbo will be linked by China’s first smart high-speed highway in time for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. With six lanes in each direction, the 161km route through Zhejiang will use navigational and sensor technology to increase the speed of traffic to 120km/h. An underground charging system will effectively electrifythe road for compatible electric vehicles, powered by the road’s photovoltaic surface.

Sensors along the road will connect to a cloud computing system to monitor all vehicles in real time. This will then integrate with driverless vehicles’ navigational systems to control cars and allow traffic to flow at 120km/h.

The speed limit for China’s expressways is already 120km/h, There is also a minimum speed of 70km/h.The issue is more about the average speeds. According to the Yangtze Daily (长江日报) the average speed on Zhejiang’s expressways is only 90km/h and increasing this by 20-30% by new technologies to 120km/h (in Chinese) is part of a longer-term target to go beyond the current national speed limit.

The report cites an official from the Zhejiang Province Department of Transport as saying, “The short-term objective is to increase the average speed ​​by 20-30%, close to the speed the roads are designed for. In addition to this, drawing on the technological standards of Germany’s highways with unlimited speeds and Italy’s with a 150km/h maximum, the long-term engineering goal for the Hang-Shao-Yong [杭绍甬 Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Ningbo] expressway is to break through the 120km/h limit.”

The road should reduce emissions (whether petrol or use of electricity) with a smooth flow of traffic and is aimed to be a safer, zero deathsystem.

China already has a photovoltaic highway. The 1km test strip opened in December 2017 in Shandong. The road already has electromagnetic induction rings beneath the solar panel surface that will charge future electric vehicles that are set up with on-the-go charging.

Anecdotally, China’s highways are excellent in terms of road surface, are but prone to delay caused by unclear lane etiquette and driver indecision about exit ramps. Other drivers must brake soon causing tailbacks. The elimination of such tailbacks could prove more beneficial than simply increasing cruising speeds.

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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