Currently, the highest tech devices we see "lighting" the roads at night in areas where streetlights are impractical are reflectors. Not exactly the newest of the new. And, with nighttime accidents not uncommon, increasing the visibility of the road at night is a good thing. Doing it by using solar energy is great.
Enter the British firm Astucia, which has developed the SolarLite flush road stud. This stud contains LEDs that are powered by tiny solar panels that collect and store energy during the day (so don't expect these in tunnels or heavily forested areas) and automatically turn on the lights when it gets dark out. The SolarLites can be seen from 900 meters away (over half a mile) which is much better than a reflector's 90 meters of visibility. Astucia claims that this increase gives drivers over 30 seconds to react to changes in the road direction instead of the 3.2 seconds they have when only reflectors are involved. Already in use in places around the UK, nighttime accidents in those areas have dropped by over 70 percent since the SolarLites were installed, Astucia says.
And here's another bonus, one that surprised me. Astucia says a SolarLite will last between 8-10 years, much longer than a conventional retro-reflective stud that needs to be replaced every year or two. Is that really how often those road reflectors need to be replaced? Yikes.