England to Test Electric Motorways
Imagine being able to recharge your car as you drive down the road. Well, that possibility could become a reality for motorists in England if a scheme proposed by government agency Highways England takes effect.
The idea is to test wireless technology that transfer power from inside the road to the vehicle driving on it, built into England’s motorways and major A roads.
As you might be aware, the technology for charge-as-you-drive has already been implemented in various places around the world, but not on a widespread basis.
In Gumi in South Korea, for example, 7.5 miles (12 km) of road was switched on in 2013. Buses with the compatible equipment could be charged as they were driven over this section of road.
This was made possible because electric cables were buried under the road and used to generate electromagnetic fields. These are picked up by a coil inside the device inside the bus and converted into electricity.
Last year, Milton Keynes (in England) also started their own scheme, though much more limited. Plates were installed in the road that also allowed buses to recharge wirelessly. However, the buses would have to stop for several minutes over one of these plates to receive the power boost.
The new plans are already underway as Highways England have completed a feasibility study, which assesses the practicality of the proposed plan.
Stuart Thompson is a spokesperson for the agency, who explained that off-road trials will be held by 2016 or 2017. This means that the trials won’t be held on any public roads, but as it’s still very early days, it has yet to be determined where they will be held.
The trials are expected to last about 18 months before a decision is made about whether to commit to on-road trials – on public roads.
The agency’s Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson explained that with vehicle technologies advancing at an ever-increasing pace, Highways England has committed itself to supporting the growth of vehicles with ultra-low emissions.
“The off-road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England,” he added, “and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country.”
Companies are now being asked to offer bids to host the trials, and Highways England said that the full details of the scheme will be made public once the contractor has been appointed.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said that exciting possibilities could stem from the potential to recharge low-emission vehicles on the move.
“As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys,” he said, “and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses.”