One of the main problems plaguing electric vehicles is that eventually drivers have to pull off the road and stop to recharge the battery, putting a limit on how far they can drive continuously. But a team at Japan’s Toyohashi University of Technology may have developed a direct solution to that problem. The researchers have developed a way to transmit electricity to a car’s tires through four inches of the type of concrete used on roads.
Led by electrical engineering professor Takashi Ohira, the team took their demonstration to the Wireless Technology Park 2012 trade show held in Yokohama. They showed their prototype that could lead to the eventual technology that will allow electric vehicles to recharge while on the move. The electric field coupling system provides the charge through the vehicle’s tires. In their demo, four-inch blocks of concrete, to represent the road’s surface, were placed under full-size car tires, with metal plates in-between. Electricity measuring from 50 to 60 watts was transmitted to the tires, and then used to turn on a light bulb that had been attached to the tires. The team has dubbed their project EVER, for Electric Vehicle on Electrified Roadway.
This isn’t the first leap into this realm by the researchers, however. Takashi Ohira worked with Toyota Central R&D Labs last year on a very similar project. The main problem they have discovered is how much of the electricity is lost traveling through the rubber. As of their test last year, less than 20% was dissipated, but it’s still a significant amount. Ohira says that the power needs to be increased by 100 times in order to be useful, but they feel they have made a very fruitful first step, and are ready to move forward despite the challenges.