Upgraded street infrastructure

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This article is speculative. It covers topics that are not straightforwardly derivable from current knowledge. Take it with a grain of salt. See: "exploratory engineering" for what can be predicted and what not.
This article is a stub. It needs to be expanded.

Minimal invasive upgrade

What's wrong with asphalt?

Currently streets are made from asphalt (and sometimes concrete). Technology is still far too limited to give us many alternative options that are equally suitable (or even better). Of course one should not undervalue how far the asphalt experts got optimizing for grip water drainage and more under the rather limited design space asphalt has to offer. But there are fundamental limitations. While the recycling of asphalt is decent and there even seem to be some bio based products coming up.

  • There is the problem of toxic fumes for the workers applying the material.
  • Then asphalt is like (almost everything else today) a completely passive material taking up a lot of space doing very little.
  • And lastly (also like almost everything else today) installing it requires big industry and lots of heavy transport.
  • Side roads looking like rag rugs from repeated spot repair are common. (TODO: add illustrative picture)

With advanced atomically precise manufacturing available those problems can be evaded.
Just like with 3D-printing adding complexity to a product does not add cost.

Possible functions for upgrade foils/sheets

The focus in this section will be a minimal invasive strongly anchored upgrade in the form of some foil/sheet material.

As the reader might know integrating photoelectric conversion and other stuff into the surface of streets has recently earned a lot ridicule especially in the US.

With APM available the situation is quite different though. Things that are completely impossible and ridiculous with today's technology suddenly become possible. That doesn't mean though that those naive (brute force) things will be done. Much better/smarter solutions will come up.

How to deal with snow and ice ?

A prime example for a ridiculous proposal is melting snow by heating up the streets. With extremely efficient advanced forms of energy transmission it would theoretically be possible to drag a significant fraction of all the solar power from the equator (not just from the street area) to places nearer the poles. Concentrating a few percent of equator area to just the roads in the north would not just melt the snow. The roads would glow red hot. Of course this does not make sense and will not be done.

Another thing that could be done but will not be done is melting snow without expending energy. Yes - this is possible. Simply a reversible heat pump. Melting a buch of snow with the heat contained in some other (easily transportable) block of material. This other block is thereby cooled down even further from ambient temperature. The energy expended can later be recovered given the thermal isolation of both the block and the thawed snow was good enough and the transport away from the place where it's in the way (maybe just a few meters) didn't take too much time.

Why would one not do this when thermal isolation of APM products can be excellent? Because:

  • Thermal isolation works the better the bigger the packets are (less surface per volume).
  • If packed in isolation it's likely already in transportable form
  • The frictional losses that water (or any other non superfluid liquid) incurs in pipes are much higher than the frictional losses of solids in capsules transported via a supralubricating infinitesimally beared tube mail.

So to get rid of snow maybe a (high speed) gem-gum tube mail system for slightly compressed snow pellets may make sense. Combined with semi conventional snow removal vehicle. Or some pellet gather and compression system included in the street. This could couple to a general purpose tube mail system. But at this point the upgrade is no longer minimal invasive (not just a thin foil) and one likely could add a roof or full enclosure with the same material effort.

Visual markings

Visual marking are only necessary at places where it will still be allowed to drive manually. That is mainly outside of cities. Those road markings would be for the people that still want to drive and are allowed to drive (at location where it is allowed).

A good way to show road markings (and other things) is by incorporating displays into the road that can operate in both a passive and active mode. At daytime the passive display is active. A passive displays based on interference colors. Those are energy consumption wise like e-paper (only switching needs energy) but much more brilliant much much and faster and a bit more contrast rich.

Active light at night can be focused toward the viewer and strobed to save energy. (Not that it would be necessary. With abundant energy from atmospheric meshes and cemomechaniocal converters for long term energy storage the streets could be converted into a psychedelic nightmare).

Street markings could be temporarily turned on when a manually driven car passes by.

Street area may be used as advertisement area but with widespread use of AR-glasses this kind of advertisement (along with old-school billboards) may loose a lot of value and may be dropped. (Good for everyone's sake.)

Abrasion and grip

Another problem of street surfaces is abrasion and grip. With gemstone based metamaterials of Mohs scale 8 to 10 and a toughness above steel abrasion will be rather low even for surfaces designed to provide high grip for rubber tires (which might then be old time legacy). Even despite the low abrasion rate a subsystem for active self repair of the exposed surface may be desirable and should be possible.

Management of incident light

Back to photoelectric conversion: Since the grip providing structures are not random but deliberately put in place (interesting problem) strong losses due to uncontrolled light scattering should be avoidable. Actively actuated internal microstructures may optimize for the angle of incidence of light. Note that even if integrating photoelectric conversion into the system does not incur any extra cost (excluding eventual licensing fees) that does not necessarily mean it will be done. (more valuable as advertisement area / ...)


For minimal invasive low mass solutions atmospheric carbon dioxide can be used as a building material is deployment time is uncritical. If designed properly deployment shouldn't require any physical intervention by human hands or even vehicles.

Machine phase transport cables in existing pipes

  • Usage of existing gas pipes:

Existing pipes (gas/water) may provide space for thin cables that do various kinds of machine phase transport. Putting them there might motivate to built in capabilities to let them extend slightly akin to growing plants. Full Nanofactory capabilities are not required though and also undesirable. Prefabricated microcomponents can be delivered along the cables and put in place by e.g. microcomponent maintainance units or something like a mobile piece of the upper convergent assembly layers of a nanofactory.

A biological analogy with remote similarity is the meristem tissue in plants - the growth zones. See: (Wikipedia)

[Todo: add description of machine phase pipe breach szenario]

Inflated streets

Maybe a bit more invasive:

Air inflated streets may seem ridiculous but nearer inspection shows that sufficient pressure for a "rock hard" surface is easily possible. Well compartmentalized structures with internal bracing can make surfaces perfectly flat. The main benefit: Due to the extremely low mass use these streets will become cheap even compares to the already dirt cheap concrete.

Related: Diamondoid balloon products

Complete replacement

  • adding a roof
  • complete enclosure in a pipe
  • vacuum tubes? handle like tube mail? ...
  • integration in / connection to a transport capability of atmospheric meshes

Furter topics