Plugging your electric car into a charging station could become a thing of the past as researchers are developing electric roads that can charge your car while waiting at a traffic light or even on the move.
This works by having a cable or charging hub buried in the asphalt, and a coil on the underside of the vehicle. When the vehicle is in the vicinity of the charging hub, it wirelessly connects and begins to charge.
So-called static charging is done when your car is parked, for example in your garage overnight. Stationary charging is done in short bursts, for example at traffic lights or tolls, while dynamic charging keeps your car fully powered while it is on the move via induction loops under the road surface.
Researchers are coming up with a plan to define which solutions are most suitable in which circumstances. For example, stationary charging may be suitable to use in cities whereas dynamic makes more sense on highways.
However, both stationary and dynamic charging have technical challenges to overcome before they get to market, according to Axel Barkow from the EU-funded UNPLUGGED project, not least that more development needs to be done on fast-charging batteries.
The UNPLUGGED project built two demo vehicles – a passenger car and a delivery vehicle – to investigate how inductive static charging could work in practice. Barkow says that one of the main obstacles standing in the way of wide rollout is the lack of an industry-wide standard for the chargers.