Conductive concrete could electrify roads of the future, but in the city of Gumi, South Korea, the streets are already generating enough juice to power electric buses.
Two new Online Electric Vehicles (OLEV), developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), were unveiled earlier this week. In lieu of batteries, the buses receive wireless power from electric cables buried underneath the surface of the road. Using Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR) technology, the cables’ magnetic fields are converted to electricity by a receiving device on the undercarriage of the bus as it drives over power strips.
The buses are equipped with a small battery — about one-third the size of those found in traditionally electric vehicles — and boasts 136 horsepower off of 20 kilohertz and 100 kilowatts of electricity. While maintaining a 6.7-inch air gap between the undercarriage and the road, the bus captures 85 percent of the electricity emitted from the cables.
As of now, the buses are running about a 14-mile, inner city route in Gumi, but officials hope to add more cities in the coming years. That shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish, especially since the power strips are only activated when a driver drives over them. Plus, the strips don’t need to cover the entire road, just segments along the route.
If the project is a success, Gumi City plans to roll out 10 more buses by 2015, along as pilot programs in other Korean cities. Besides introducing 3 OLEV buses to McAllen, Texas, KAIST is working on projects with Boston’s Logan Airport, Park City, Utah and the Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia.