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Car Corner
Wireless Charging - In The Road

March 1, 2013
By Scott Lewis

I have been slacking off too much lately. A couple of months ago I told you about the cam-less engine... only to find out when I sat down to write about it someone already invented it.

This month we are going to talk about wirelessly charging an electric car. Crap... as soon as I tried to research the bits and pieces of this technology I found out that Qualcomm has started on it... and even has thought of the same vision of how to use it as I did. Crap. Again I can't say you read it here first.

I said I am a slacker. That's because I have had this idea for years. I just never thought it would be possible. I assumed that even if you could wirelessly charge something over a gap of feet (and not millimeters) that the efficiency in the transfer would be a problem.

With gas prices rising... again... and electric cars like the Tesla Model S, I have renewed my interest in this possibility. Electric cars tend to be about three times more economical than their gasoline counterparts. The Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf are all tickling the 100 eMPG mark. The equivalent to 100 MPG. At that rate it starts to make sense to pursue this technology.

Even if you lost half the efficiency, that would still be about a 50 eMPG rating. And in time they would surly make it more efficient. And sure enough this quote from Qualcomm put my mind at ease:

"Wireless power though is about to take a huge leap in scale, as kilowatts can now be transferred over an air gap of hundreds of millimeters without the previous losses through poor energy transfer efficiency."

Rolls Royce displayed a wirelessly charging car at the Detroit Auto Show. This would use a charging pad in the floor of your garage. You would just park the car over the pad and it would wirelessly charge the car. Very cool, and this will make electric cars mainstream. When someone does not have to remember to plug in that big cable into the side of your car when you get home... that's when electric cars will start overtaking regular cars... when it's easier than going to a gas station.

I wanted to take this idea further. Much further. My idea would be to put the charging pads in the road itself. Think about it. If the highway had the pads located in the major roadways of a city, the cars would need smaller batteries. The idea being that the battery only needs to get you to and from the major roads. As cars drive they get electricity from the road itself.

Crap... digging around Qualcomm's web site they thought of this too. Here is a quote from them:

"Dynamic Charging

Imagine having a line of BCUs buried just below the surface of the road or highway. Qualcomm Halo WEVC drivers could charge while on the move, in dedicated WEVC dynamic charging lanes, thus removing the need to stop and recharge their EV/PHEV on longer journeys.

This will lead to a shift in charging behavior and potentially the end of range anxiety. WEVC drivers will charge little and often and use dynamic charging to complement local stationary charging. This means that batteries could be smaller with the resulting reduction in EV/PHEV cost and vehicle weight."

Man, I really need to write these ideas down sooner.

I have one idea that they did not... Obama!!!

Back in 1956 President Eisenhower started the Interstate Highway System. This was a major improvement to this country. Think about the amount of commerce that was... and is... aided by this system. Automobiles prior to WWII would be unheard of crossing the country. With the Interstate it became a recreational thing. And car manufacturers stepped up by building cars capable of this kind of travel. Then there is the number of businesses that grew from the Interstate system. It is one of the most impactful projects this country has ever accomplished and benefited from.

President Obama could make a huge mark on history if he initialed a plan to put charging pads into the Interstate system. Think about it. 1/4 of all miles traveled in this country are done on our highway system. Like I said, you just need enough battery capacity to get you from one highway (with charging) to another... and to your home.

If electric cars are the future... then so is charging them on the road!!!

Conclusion

With charging pads in the road, I am sure we can tie them into the number of projects for self driving cars. Think about that... a self driving car would be guided by the charging pads. This would make it easier to control the cars since they would not have to be completely autonomous.

And there in lies our next topic. Self Driving Cars. No... I did not think of this first... every science fiction writer before me has. You did see The 6th Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where his car drives him to work, and the steering wheel comes out of the dash for him to park the car.

Next month we will cover the self driving car... from a different perspective than you might think. Stay tuned!

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