Monday, August 24, 2015

Could Our Roads Someday Charge Our Cars?

There's now a new study in London, England that could drastically improve the range of electric cars by designing roads that can charge these cars while you're driving along them. If you're not fortunate enough to have a Tesla or live close to a supercharging station, then your electric car battery won't take you very far. Electric cars get 260 miles to a full charge, but a regular gas car can get you 300 miles or more.

Highways England announced that they will be doing an 18-month trial with charging lanes. Unfortunately, the testing will not be open to public roads for right now. Through these trials, vehicles will be fitted with wireless technology and roads will be installed with special equipment to simulate motorway conditions. The electricity will be generated by electric cables put under the surface of the roads that will generate electromagnetic fields, which then will be picked up by a coil inside the device.

This trial will start later on this year and we'll get the full scoop after a contractor has been chosen for the job. Then following with actually using this project on real roads. Transport Minister Andrew Jones says that "the government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology."

Highways England's Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson says, "Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on England’s motorways and major A roads. The off-road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country."

Don't mistake this trial as being the first. There's a 7.5-mile road stretch in South Korea, that charges up electric buses as they drive, using a process called Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR). There's also a trial in Milton Keynes, England that shows buses being charged wirelessly through plates in the road. The only downside with this one was the buses had to stop moving to be able to charge.

This new scheme in London is way more ambitious and has a lot of positive potential in changing the electric car scene. Although there's been some skeptical questioning on this trial being efficient or just a waste of money, there's always room for battery technology improvements, so maybe these roads won't even need to be used in the future. No matter what, I think it could be a fun trial and could possibly be a big part of the world's future in new technology.

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