The US Department of Transportation has awarded a $100,000 research contract to Solar Roadways for a prototype of the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The company is currently involved in research to create structurally-engineered solar road panels embedded into roads that will generate electricity using solar energy.

The company believes that the technology could help develop an intelligent road which could double up as a secure, intelligent, decentralised and self-healing power grid.

The solar roads are expected to replace petroleum-based asphalt surfaces in parking lots and roadways in future and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The solar road panels will contain embedded LEDs which ‘paint’ the road lines from beneath to provide safer night time driving as well as giving minute instructions to drivers, the company says.

In addition, the solar road would be able to sense wildlife on the road, prevent build-up of snow and ice as well as allow fully electric vehicles to recharge along the roadway.

The company estimates that nearly five billion 12′ by 12′ Solar Road Panels would be needed to cover the asphalt surfaces in the US.