Can you imagine charging your electric vehicle (“EV”) while you drive to your destination? A team of researchers based at Cornell University is working to make that possible. This would address two of the most prevalent challenges that electric vehicles face: fears about running out of charge and the hassles associated with finding a suitable facility to top up the power on the battery.
A computer and electrical engineering professor at Cornell, Khurram Afridi is hard at work fine-tuning the technology that would ultimately make it normal for EV drivers to charge their vehicles while the cars are moving.
His project, which has been ongoing for at least seven years, is aimed at installing wireless charging equipment into the roads in the United States. He says there would be a charging lane on highways, and drivers who notice that they are low on charge would revert to that lane. The lane will have the capacity to take note of every vehicle that gets onto that charging lane, and this data would later be used to automatically send a bill to the motorist who benefited from the service.
Afridi, who thinks five or 10 years may elapse before this form of charging is available to the public, is convinced that the method he proposes is the best approach to put to rest range anxiety among drivers. After all, charging infrastructure will be on the very roads they are driving on.
A study by UC Davis recently discovered that one out of every five EV owners reverted to an ICE vehicle as a result of the problems they faced accessing charging facilities.
It is interesting to note that the basic science upon which Afridi’s project is centered can be traced back nearly 100 years to the time when Nikola Tesla electrically generated alternating magnetic fields to provide power to lighting systems.
Despite more recent attempts to commercialize wireless charging, no success has been registered. Afridi explains that his idea will be more successful because, unlike earlier attempts that depended on magnetic fields, which are costly and require bulky equipment, his plan will use electric fields, which are less costly and don’t require bulky equipment.
To justify his confidence, Afridi says smaller cars can get a full charge using his system in less than five hours while larger EVs, such as Teslas (NASDAQ: TSLA), require a longer duration. A partnership with Toyota will allow Afridi to power self-driving forklifts at the carmaker’s plant as the technology is perfected for use at stop signs and on highways.
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