Roads of the Future

  Graphic: City view with buildings and vehicles Copyright: © ISAC

Currently, roads are used exclusively as traffic routes. The functionalization of road transport infrastructure can make an important contribution on the way to modern and sustainable mobility and solve current problems. Current research focuses on digitalization, automation, mobility transformation, sustainability and resilience. The road transport infrastructure of the future will therefore have to fulfill many new tasks. Goals such as electromobility, automated or even autonomous driving can only be achieved if the road transport infrastructure is functionalized in a targeted manner.

In addition to technical issues, future research and development must also increasingly address the ecological and economic aspects of such approaches. However, a macroeconomic view is called for here. If it is possible to increase traffic safety, optimize the capacity of the network and reduce the burden of road freight and passenger traffic on people and the environment, there will be a high overall economic benefit that can far exceed the costs of a targeted functionalization of the road traffic infrastructure.

With the rapidly advancing development of urban living spaces and industrial activities, the proportion of sealed surfaces in Germany continues to increase. In cities, the proportion of sealed surfaces in settlement and traffic areas can be as high as 50% and in some cases as high as 70%. This leads to disruption of the water cycle and flooding.

When redeveloping existing sealed settlement and traffic areas (such as parking lots, paths, roads, etc.), infiltration-capable traffic surfaces (road structures with targeted water permeability) should be selected whenever possible, which must meet high performance requirements while keeping life cycle costs low or moderate. These traffic surfaces are to be adapted to climate change, taking into account various ecological and economic objectives. In order to ensure the sensible use and operation of such traffic surfaces, methods and procedures must also be established that can be safely used by the relevant actors in administration, planning and practice. In addition to the aforementioned unsealing of existing impermeable traffic surfaces, infiltration-capable traffic surfaces offer new ways of avoiding traffic-induced pollutant inputs, improving the urban climate, preventing the generation of traffic noise, and using renewable raw materials in traffic route construction. Some of these aspects can also be applied to dense / conventional pavements.