Recent innovations in wireless charging for electric vehicles could mean losing the need for batteries altogether. No, really.
While modern Teslas are working on new wireless recharging, particularly for electric vehicles in urban areas, one Swedish project is testing a system designed to power EVs along the highway. The method, developed by the Volvo Group and the Swedish power company Alstom with support from the Swedish Energy Agency, would involve putting two power lines directly into the road. As vehicles pass over, they'd continuously be supplied with electricity.
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The Volvo Group constructed a quarter-mile track embedded with cables last year at its Hällered testing facility in Sweden. The test truck being used contains a current collector that comes into contact with the power lines. As it moves over them, 750 V of direct current is delivered and routed to a water-cooled heating element, Gizmag's Paul Ridden reported.
To ensure safety, a section of the power line can only be live when a truck passes right over it, the Volvo Group said in a description of the testing. For now, the company is using a diesel engine Volvo FH12 truck on the track but they have plans to try out an electric motor one in the future.
An electrified road system like this would mean that vehicles could keep going without requiring any batteries on board. Range anxiety begone! And the Volvo Group says it would also have the advantage of being more affordable than an overhead cable approach.
There are plenty of big fat "ifs" here, though. Volvo's experts admit as much themselves, saying that years of research remain to be done on the current collector, the electric motor, the control systems, the road construction, road maintenance and even the payment method that drivers would use.
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But I think such high-tech roads could potentially work well in the United States, where many of our highways are aging and natural disasters often mess with elevated power lines. Back in the day cable cars were a normal part of American life. This is just the cable car of the future, and we each get to drive one.
Photo: Volvo and Alstom are experimenting with building power lines directly into the road. Credit: Volvo Group