Tesla Motors wowed us (and creeped us out just a little bit) with its Solid Metal Snake charging plug for its Model S electric sedan. The premise of the futuristic device is rather simple; it allows the driver to pull into their garage (or perhaps even a Supercharger) and automatically charge the device without any actually physically having to place his or her hands on the charger or receptacle cover.
However, it looks as though the UK government is looking even further into the future. The UK will begin trials latest this year for what it is dubbing an “electric highway” that would recharge electric vehicles wirelessly as they travel down the road. Such technology is the “Holy Grail” for EV owners who have to recharge their cars at home, at work, or at public facilities when running low on a charge. Whereas drivers of conventional gasoline or diesel engine vehicles can top off their tanks in a few minutes, recharging an electric vehicle can often take hours (that is if you don’t have access to a Supercharger and an uber-expensive Model S).
An electric highway would allow drivers to take long trips without losing a charge or at least losing very little charge in the process.
“The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities,” said Transport Minister Andrew Jones. “The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector.”
The electric highway trial will last for approximately 18 months, during which specially-outfitted vehicles will be tested off public roads. If successful, the government would commence with on-road trials. And even if the wireless charging trial isn’t a success, the government is still committed to installing standard plug-in charging points at 20-mile intervals along the country’s motorways.
Although UK officials aren’t detailing exactly what technology it will be using for its electric highways, we have the feeling that it will be some form of Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR) technology. The city of Gumi, South Korea deployed buses that support the wireless charging technology two years ago. Electricity is fed to cables buried below the road surface and wirelessly transmit power to the underbody of the buses at an 85 percent maximum power efficiency rate. The buses are able to recharge with a sizable 7-inch gap between the underbody panels and the road surface while running a 15-mile loop.