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Many hope that Electric Vehicles will develop to become the preferred transport, drastically reducing carbon emissions, and dependence on oil. However current EV’s suffer from several problems, the largest probably being the range that they can drive before the battery needs to be recharged.
Students at Toyohashi University along with a team of researchers at Toyota Central R&D Labs, led by Masahiro Hanazawa, have been developing the technology to wirelessly charge EV’s as they drive around. If successfully installed on a large scale, it could effectively give EV’s an infinite range.
The method is based upon the idea of a railway locomotive, which is powered through overhead wires. Their design will see electricity from power lines, converted into radio frequencies, which are then transmitted to an electric track buried beneath the road. The electricity, again in the form of radio waves can then be transferred through the four inches of concrete that make up the road and into a circular steel belt installed within the car tyres.
In a recent demo, at the Wireless Technology Park 2012, the team showed that a steady stream of 50-60 watts was transmitted to the tyres to charge the EV.
On paper the idea sounds great. EV’s with an infinite range, and no need to ever stop at a designated station to charge them up. However the reality is likely to be far more disappointing. Just ignoring the fact that I imagine the system will be incredibly inefficient; the actual cost of installing metal tracks in the hundreds of thousands of miles of roadway would be massive, and then on top of that special tyres would be needed for the cars, which no doubt would be more expensive than regular tyres. I think that the chances of this technology, in this form, ever becoming a commercial success, are slim.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…
Having worked in vehicle research, my guess is that in a decade or so this, or something similar, will be looking far more likely, if not actually in the process or being installed on all major roads.
Furthermore, I will guess that this technology, in its broadest sense, will be an integral part of a much wider system where a lot, but not all, of a vehicle's controls will be set by its onboard computer, rather than the driver, thus making the road network much safer. It will have the added benefit of really annoying Jeremy Clarkson. Not as much as he annoys me, but we can't have everything, can we?