Magnetic roads: Crashes could be eliminated with cars that stick to the ground

Cars could soon be sticking to the road a lot more after the testing of magnetic roadways by car manufacturer Volvo.

The company has been using magnets embedded in test roads in the aim to be one of the first companies to introduce self-driving cars and also reduce the number of crashes.

It says it could soon be testing the magnets and futuristic roads in real-life traffic as well.

Volvo created a 100m long test track in Sweden and placed a pattern of magnets 200mm below the road’s surface. It then equipped the car with several magnetic field sensors.

Magnetic roads could bring many advantages to drivers and manufacturers. These include being able to position cars on the road in preventative safety system that could help to keep cars on the road.

Magnets could also allow roads to be smaller, with narrower lanes, as self-driving cars could be kept in position.

“Our aim is for the car to be able to handle the driving all by itself. “

Jonas Ekmark, the preventive safety leader at Volvo confirmed the company has been testing the technology.

He said: “The magnets create an invisible ‘railway’ that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimetre. We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising.”

“Our aim is for the car to be able to handle the driving all by itself. Accurate, reliable positioning is a necessary prerequisite for a self-driving car.

“It is fully possible to implement autonomous vehicles without changes to the present infrastructure. However, this technology adds interesting possibilities, such as complementing road markings with magnets.”


Volvo is certainly not the only company to be trying to figure out the best ways to help prevent accidents and for some years now reversing-aid cameras have available in cars.

Recently competitors Toyota filed a patent, published at the beginning of March, which surrounds ‘collision determination’.

There are very few details included in the patent but it does say that a collision determination device involves a radar detection unit which uses radar waves to detect objects around the vehicle.

This will apparently work in tandem with an image based detector and both attempt to prevent collisions.

“ A large-scale implementation of road magnets could very well be part of Sweden’s aim.”

There is still a long way to go until we see magnetic roads replace traditional existing roads, and many barriers that need to be crossed, but Sweden has been working with the car manufacturer say they could implement a large-scale use of them.

Claes Tingvall from the Swedish Transport Administration, who worked with Volvo, said the work has been promising.

He said: “The test results are very interesting, especially when adding the potential for improved safety as well the advantages for the development of self-driving vehicles.

“A large-scale implementation of road magnets could very well be part of Sweden’s aim to pioneer technology that contributes to sustainable mobility.”

Image courtesy of Volvo Cars.

In pictures: Artwork made from coding

DevArt is a new type of art. It’s an art made by code that is trying to bring people’s attention to the fact that coding is more than numbers of a screen.

A competition is being run by Google and Barbican, in London, UK, to create art with code. The winner will be commissioned to create a new digital art installation at the Digital Revolution exhibition, which is the biggest ever exploration of digital creativity in the UK.

DevArt says on its website: “When it is pushed to its creative and technical limits, code can be used to create beautiful digital art installations. This art is called, DevArt.

“It is made with code, by developers that push the possibilities of creativity and technology. They use technology as the canvas and code as the raw materials to create innovative, engaging digital art installations.”

Here are some of our favourite artworks and projects so far – the shortlist for finalists will be announced on April 5 and you can find out more here. 

Maia Grotepass

Maia Grotepass

Maia says she is interested in making layers of software around us more visible.

She says: “Every word and image we share in a mediated way goes through software. We don’t even think about it anymore. There are people and machines who make decisions in these software layers. User experience design tries to give a sense of control to the user.”

Image courtesy of DevArt by Maia Grotepass.

Peter Koraca

Peter Koraca

The Walk in Mind project will be an interactive installation composed of 3-4 minute sessions which visitors walk around a projected circle.

Koraca said: “Their act of walking generates real-time procedural drawings of re-imagined cityscapes. Motion detection interprets their movements and affects the various parameters of the generative city inside it.”

Image courtesy of DevArt by Peter Koraca.

David Hoe

david hoe

This project, by David Hoe, aims to build an interactive tool to abstract art in a quick way.

Hoe says: “Give users a way to manipulate something that’s traditionally only allowed to be viewed. They can explore the variations around that piece in real-time, or simply start in a new mining location and generate something new.”

Image courtesy of DevArt by David Hoe.

Malcolm McDonald

malcolm mcdonald

Malcolm McDonald is hoping to create an infinite, un-finishable maze, that a small automated agent will explore – at their own peril.

McDonald said: “This maze will be automatically extended as the agent gets close to the edge, and the agent will patiently explore all dead-ends until the heat death of the universe, or the browser is closed, whichever happens first.”

Image courtesy of DevArt by Malcolm McDonald.

Philippe Brouard

Philippe Brouard

Blending together curves used in computer design has created this piece of art by Philippe Brouard that he hopes will help to build a user friendly interface.

Brouard said: “The code will be based on Parametric equation and Bezier curves will show the path from one point to another. I want to bring fun in this installation with many buttons and triggers. Handling them will update the curves live!”

Image courtesy of DevArt by Philippe Brouard.

 Bram Stolk

Bram Stolk

The evolution of micro processors inspired the artwork from Bram Stolk who took a random space filling algorithm and mapped it onto the technology inside the latest processors.

Stolk says: “Randomly tiling a bounded plane with an infinite number of non overlapping shapes is an interesting premise. To avoid running out of space one has to shrink each additional shape.”

Image and feature image courtesy of DevArt by Bram Stolk.

Peter Smuts


The data used for the artwork by Peter Smuts collects individual words from social media, combines them with words from Google Trends and a random selection of words from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Smuts says: “These words become both visual and etymological seeds for the creation of dynamic network visualizations and ‘exquisite corpse’ sentences (funny, sad, shocking, absurd, poetic and sometimes beautiful) constructed using the collected words and translated between languages using Google Translate.”

Image courtesy of DevArt by Peter Smuts.