Chinese highways are experiencing a hi-tech transformation including digital payments through Alipay, the first “smart highway” with photovoltaic asphalt, and drones that record violations
Zhejiang and its capital Hangzhou, home to Alibaba, are beacons of innovation and research. Paying at the toll booth with Alipay via mobile device is the norm. These new stations were first inaugurated at the end of 2016 on the Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway, but now the new technology is spreading like wildfire across the region.
Hangzhou and Ningbo will be connected by the first intelligent highway that will inaugurate the Asian Games of 2022 in Hangzhou
The provincial government of Zhejiang said that by 2022, the year Hangzhou will host the Asian Games, it will inaugurate the first smart highway in the world, which will connect Hangzhou with Ningbo.
With six lanes in each direction, the 160 km route will be the first green highway in the world. An underground charging system will effectively “electrify” the road for compatible electric vehicles powered by the photovoltaic surface of the road.
The new highway will use navigation technology and hi-tech sensors to allow cars to maintain a cruising speed of 120 km/h. Space will also be given to unmanned smart vehicles. Sensors will connect to a cloud computing system to monitor all vehicles in real time.
Information gathered from these sensors will integrate with the navigation systems of driverless vehicles to control cars and allow traffic to flow at a high speed in safe conditions.
China already has one stretch of photovoltaic highway in Shangdong – a province in the north – where a one-kilometer experiment was constructed in December 2017. The road already has electromagnetic induction rings below the surface that will charge the future electric vehicles in motion.
High technology brings great benefits to the community
Driving in China, for those who know the country, is not a pleasant experience. The rate of accidents is high, as is the number of traffic violations, which often go unpunished due to an immensity of offenses. Difficulties include passing on both the right and left and driving in the emergency lane when roads become congested.
A new digital device will make life harder for offenders and easier for Chinese traffic police: the Guardrail Drone. This automated device posted to the guardrail will use HD 360 degree imaging to allow police officers to record and punish traffic code infringements with greater accuracy than current technologies.
On Chinese social media, videos have already been released on how the device works. Some netizens have said that the new device is “totally incredible”, while others, already victims of the drone, warn their fellow drivers to be more careful in respecting the rules of traffic.
This is not the first case of high-tech and making everyday life simpler in China. In recent years the Central Government has invested in new technologies for bureaucratic procedures such as the use of WeChat in Chinese courts.
The Beijing Justice Department has in fact adopted WeChat as an electronic archive to present cases electronically. The project aims to replace the IDs issued by the state government, thus speeding up the bureaucratic process.
Parties in a lawsuit can file documents, verify their identity and pay legal fees through the WeChat platform dedicated to criminal prosecution services managed by the Haidian court in Beijing.
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