A new report from Stanford University offers a striking glimpse of our transportation future, and let us be the first to say, it looks pretty sweet. Stanford researchers have designed a system through which electric vehicles could be charged wirelessly simply by driving on the highway. Whoa.
One of the main drawbacks of EVs is their limited driving range. This new technology, known as "magnetic resonance coupling," would make an EV capable of driving for eternity.
Here are the basics:
A copper coil is placed underneath the asphalt, and a matching one is built onto the bottom of your EV. When the vehicle passes over the underground coil that is attached to an electrical current, the cars coil lines up and is able to receive electricity through an invisible magnetic field. The two coils (one in the ground, one on your car) are tuned to the same frequency, and they are able to pass electricity at a 97% efficiency rate between each other. The researchers have figured out a way to send enough energy to constantly power an EV without ever plugging it in, with the proper spacing of coils in the roadway.
Obviously this would require a massive overhaul of our roadways, but it could completely revolutionize transportation, and oh hey, create some jobs too. The technology is here, but more research needs to be done on the safety and practicality end. This is still a ways out, but if we are going to be spending tons of money on our roadways, it would be nice to see it going in this direction, and not toward more dirty transportation.
For more info, check out this YouTube vid about the project.
Photo: The 2012 Ford Focus Electric (courtesy Ford Motor Company)